The funeral of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching career in Santa Clara was everything I expected it to be, a physical battle reminiscent of a cage match. The 49ers did not roll over and die. The 49ers lead running back Frank Gore left the game in the 2nd quarter after smashing into Seahawks “Mike” linebacker Bobby Wagner (#54). Gore’s backup, Carlos Hyde, was lost in the 3rd quarter due to a back injury. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks never had the opportunity to chase down Russell Wilson in the 2nd half due to a thumb injury. The 49ers team leader for tackles, “Mike” linebacker Chris Borland, hurt his ankle on the last play of the 1st half in which the 49ers intercepted Russell Wilson (#3) and tried to take it to the house. Which they almost did if it wasn’t for Russell Wilson hurling his body into the convoy of 49ers leading the interceptor down the sideline to the end zone.
The Hawks suffered an injury to left tackle Russell Okung (#76) on that same play, which I thought was a terrible decision to call. The Hawks had no timeouts and instead should have attempted to kick a field goal. During the interception return, a 49er ambushed Okung, reminiscent of the Sean Lee treatment. The result was Okung spitting out blood and suffering a bruised lung. He will be missing next week’s pivotal matchup against the Arizona Cardinals.
At the end of the day, the 49ers body count was higher than the Seahawks. Not only did the Hawks win the war of attrition, they won the battle at the line of scrimmage. Kaepernick was sacked six times on Sunday. Wilson was sacked 5 times. Running back Marshawn Lynch (#24) gained 91 hard-fought yards, most of which came in the 2nd half of the game. Lynch strolled into the end zone untouched in the 3rd quarter. A score which shifted the momentum of the game in the Seahawks favor.
What was a surprise was that Wilson threw an interception and Kaepernick did not. This has not been the trend for this matchup. Perhaps Kaepernick heeded the advice not to try “the best corner in the game”.
The 49er Faithful failed to represent at Seahawks stadium on Sunday. I estimate the Faithful comprised less than 5% of the crowd. The 12th Man brought the noise and intensity level expected for a game against the 49ers. I felt symptoms of tinnitus the following day. Unfortunately, the 12th Man’s effort did not net any false starts or delay of game violations. However, the Hawks offensive line continued the pattern of being penalized for their own false starts.
The Hawks won the game 17-7. The knockout blow came in the 4th quarter with a touchdown pass from Wilson to rookie wide receiver Paul Richardson (#10).
The 49ers playoff hopes were snuffed out after the loss. The Seahawks playoffs gained life after the Green Bay Packers were upset by the Buffalo Bills. Everything is up for grabs in the NFC playoff picture. The next step in their journey is against the NFC leading Arizona Cardinals in Glendale this Sunday night on NBC Sunday Night football. It is all falling into place for the Seahawks. The playoffs start now.