Seahawks fall, 19-17, to rival 49ers in San Francisco

Staff writerDecember 8, 2013 

— The rancor that filtered through the Seahawks’ locker room after their loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5 was not present Sunday.

Seattle was dealing with its second loss of the season after a late burst by running back Frank Gore put San Francisco in field-goal position, prefacing a 22-yard layup for Phil Dawson that sealed a 19-17 win for the 49ers Sunday at decrepit Candlestick Park.

General disappointment in losing replaced the bitterness that was present in Indianapolis. The Seahawks are 11-2, still hold a two-game lead in the NFC West and finished Sunday with the conference’s best record.

“We’re not worried about anything,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “There’s no chance for us to be worried about anything. We would have loved to get the win, but it doesn’t really change anything for us.”

The loss was the Seahawks’ first in more than two months. San Francisco snapped Seattle’s seven-game winning streak by beating them with the heavy-handed approach both sides favor.

The Seahawks’ Steven Hauschka had squeezed through a 31-yard field goal for a meager 17-16 lead with 6:20 remaining before Gore’s 51-yard run, his longest of the season, yanked the game back into San Francisco’s palms.

Gore had 54 yards total before cutting back and zipping through the right side on that run. There was no backside help or safety to be seen, and by the time Gore fell purposely to the ground, the Seahawks were caught in a game dictated by the clock.

“Obviously, somebody messed up,” Sherman said.

A quarterback sweep by Colin Kaepernick on third-and-7 from the Seattle 15-yard line after the Seahawks used their final two timeouts packaged the win for San Francisco. Dawson’s kick with 26 seconds remaining closed the box. A heave from Russell Wilson on the Seahawks’ final possession was intercepted at the San Francisco 20-yard line when Jermaine Kearse fell down.

That enabled the 49ers to take a knee and exhale.

“We had them, then we let them off the leash, we had them, then we let them off again,” safety Earl Thomas said. “When you’re on the road, you have to bring your special teams and defense and we had mistakes in both of those. It cost us today.”

San Francisco trickled out to a 6-0 lead during a stagnant first quarter for the Seahawks. Seattle gained just 36 yards in the quarter.

Marshawn Lynch’s 11-yard second-quarter touchdown run wiped out that lead. Dawson would hit from 52 yards, then Seahawks rookie tight end Luke Willson caught a 39-yard touchdown pass for his first career score, putting the Seahawks up 14-9.

Vernon Davis’ 8-yard touchdown reception dragged San Francisco back in front, 16-14, six seconds before halftime.

The expected share of kidney punches and foot stomps from each side was underway. San Francisco and Seattle both strive to play with unmatched force, something they took turns doing Sunday.

San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman spent the day sharing train wrecks with Lynch. Seattle’s Chris Clemons hoisted then planted Kaepernick for a sack. Amid the on-field bell-ringings, a fog horn bellowed whenever San Francisco scored in this antiquated bay-side stadium.

Even the stiff grass field had a menacing feel, as if beset by rigor mortis.

There was no scoring in the third quarter, leaving the fourth to be dotted with the two field goals — one hoped to be a game-winner, and the other was just that. It felt like a natural conclusion for two defenses that dictated the day.

Pushed during the weeklong run-up were storylines about animosity between the teams. That was not on display after the game in conduct or commentary. Dozens of players shook hands on the field, then both locker rooms spoke respectfully about their opponent.

There was universal agreement about the difficulty of disposing the other side.

“It feels like you go to the dentist chair and 3.5 hours of getting root canal work done,” San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh said of playing the Seahawks. “They’re tough. These games are only for the tough.”

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com

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