Kicker Joe Nedney will get to sleep easily tonight after all.
Nedney responded to his missed 41-yard field goal that would have won the game at the end of regulation by splitting the uprights on a 40-yard game-winning field goal in overtime.
"When we didn't take advantage to win it at the end all I was hoping was that we would get another shot at it," said Nedney. "They could have ended up kicking a game winner and I would have ended up sitting here feeling lower than low."
Instead, Nedney left Seattle on an absolute high note, and with the 49ers winning the toss to get the ball first in overtime, it didn't take long to get there.
O'Sullivan under threw a ball on 2nd and 7 to Isaac Bruce at the start of the drive, but then hit payday on his next throw to Bruce for 33 yards. A pair of short throws to Bryant Johnson and Arnaz Battle followed by a few runs by Frank Gore, and the unshaken Nedney came back on and secured the first W of the season for San Francisco.
"I got redemption," said Nedney. "The offense went down the field, J.T. O'Sullivan played it really cool and we got some big plays from the receivers. It gave me an opportunity for a second chance which you don't get very much in the NFL. I appreciate it, love my offense right now."
It was the proper finishing touch for a San Francisco team that faced adversity in all three phases of the game, but and then conquered for the exciting finish.
"We had some ups and downs today, but it we all pulled through and really earned a team victory," said Gore. "I think it shows everyone that this team won't quit."
The defense executed on two out of three third down conversions to start the game, but linebacker Manny Lawson's excellent special teams play in blocking a punt on Seattle's second series turned ugly when Jordan Babineaux scooped up the block and ran it 24 yards into 49ers territory to bring Seattle's offense back on the field.
A few plays later, Seattle's running back Julius Jones shredded the 49ers defense for a 27-yard touchdown run and an early 7-0 edge.
The offense responded with a miserable series of their own, twice false starting before allowing a sack to former teammate Julian Peterson on a third down pass play. But Peterson's post-play antics drew a taunting penalty and kept the 49ers offense to stay on the field.
Turns out they would have been better off punting, as Gore fumbled the ball on the next play at his own 22-yardline. Seattle's Craig Terrill eventually recovered the multi-bobbled ball around the 10 and took it the end zone for a football folly type touchdown and 14-point Seattle advantage.
"I kind of slipped and tried to catch my balance and fight for yards," said Gore. "I had the ball out and they got it out. It was very frustrating especially coming into this environment, a division game, and to start like that, like we started in week one. But, I put it behind me, kept fighting."
Gore had a quiet day running the ball with only 61 yards, but he did keep up the fight, springing lose on the following series for a 23-yard run that set up a Nedney for a 26-yard field goal and the first points of the game for the 49ers.
The 49ers added another Nedney field goal on the next series, but this drive primarily featured O'Sullivan who completed a 25-yard pass to Johnson and a 27-yarder to Bruce on back to back plays to advance to Seattle's 28-yardline. Josh Wilson prevented Bruce from a touchdown by yanking on his jersey, setting the 49ers up at the 3 after the pass interference penalty was assessed. The drive would end with a sack when O'Sullivan slipped, but Nedney's 28-yarder brought the game to within eight points midway thru the second quarter.
Following a forced fumble by Nate Clements and a three and out by the offense, Seattle took advantage of a short field and counteracted Nedney's field goal with one of their own – a 51-yarder by Olindo Mare to cap a 6-play, 18-yard drive.
Trailing again by 11, O'Sullivan chucked one deep to Bruce for 63 yards and a first and goal from the 9. This time Seattle couldn't keep the 49ers out of the end zone with O'Sullivan firing a 3-yard bullet to Johnson for the score.
But Nedney's ensuing kickoff sailed out of bounds to give Seattle another short field and time to work it. Mare's 38-yarder as the first half expired allowed the Seahawks to enter the half with a touchdown lead at 20-13.
The 49ers defense dominated early in the third quarter, forcing back to back turnovers and tying the game with their first steal – an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown by Joe Staley.
"We talked all week about getting turnovers," said Willis. "Getting turnovers is huge for a defense and that was something we knew we needed to do today."
Cornerback Walt Harris, who had deflected the pass in the air to Willis, got similar assistance from Ray McDonald on the following series. McDonald tipped Matt Hasselbeck's pass at the line of scrimmage and Harris made the diving interception at the Seattle 41-yardlne.
"It was a momentum changer for us," said Harris of the turnover. "The guys up front put some pressure on him, got their hands up and the ball was tipped and I happened to be at the right place at the right time."
Four plays later, Gore countered his earlier fumble and walked into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown and a 27-20 advantage, the 49ers first lead of the day.
Seattle scored on back to back possessions with a 1-yard touchdown run by TJ Duckett and 32-yard field goal by Mare to retake the lead with 7:45 left to go, but the 49ers weren't done yet.
O'Sullivan overcame a Patrick Kerney sack, finding his go-to guy in Bruce on a 3rd and 14 play that went for 30 yards. The 49ers marched all the way to the 10-yardline before Seattle stopped them from getting the go-ahead score, but Nedney at least tied the game with a 28-yarder.
The 49ers kickoff coverage team, which had earlier allowed Josh Wilson a 54-yard return, turned stingy with Josh Morgan tripping up Wilson at the 11-yardline
That left a long field for Hasselbeck, who with 2:42 left in the game still looked to march his unit on their third straight scoring possession. His 12 yard scramble right after the two-minute warning earned a fresh set of downs, but the 49ers defense quickly put an end to that drive with a safety blitz by Michael Lewis for the first and only Hasselbeck sack of the game.
"We felt like we had good field position and if we could get off the field on that down we felt we'd give our offense a good chance to make a couple of plays and get within field goal position," said Harris.
And that they did. Working from the Seattle 49-yardline, Gore caught a pair of passes to bring Nedney on for the 41-yard try with three ticks to go. Despite the miss, there was no tossing in the towel along the sidelines.
"I was thinking about how we were going to move the ball down the field in overtime," said O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan put his thoughts into action, and in spite of the hostile Qwest crowd, marched his unit from their own 20 to Seattle's 23 before Nedney came on for the overtime kick.
"I think it shows the resiliency of this team," said O'Sullivan of the win. "Wins on the road are tough; this is a tough place to play. We fought through some things that weren't going well for us, but each aspect of the game came through in the end and we just want to keep doing this and be consistent."