A recap of the Seahawks’ 19-17 loss to the 49ers at CenturyLink Field on Saturday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Marshawn Lynch. Yes, the Seahawks lost. But their Skittle-back turned in yet another winning performance, and also trampled on some seemingly forbidden territory during the game.
Like the end zone: as Lynch became the first player this season to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers’ top-rated run defense – a 4-yarder in the fourth quarter that gave the Seahawks a 17-16 lead.
Like the stat sheet: as Lynch ran for 107 yards, making him the first back since the Packers’ Ryan Grant in 2009 to hit triple digits against the 49ers – a span of 36 games.
Lynch’s torrid run to the finish now includes touchdown in his past 11 games, extending his franchise record; and 100-yard efforts in six of the past eight games, in which he has gained 855 of his 1,118 rushing yards this season.
“If Marshawn Lynch isn’t in the Pro Bowl, there’s something wrong with the voting system,” rookie wide receiver, and leading receiver, Doug Baldwin said. “Plain and simple. I mean, he’s proved it week in and week out.
“Eleven straight games with a touchdown, that’s unheard of. Rushing for over 100 yards on the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL, that’s not something that easily achieved. And he did it.”
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: The obvious choice is Lynch’s rushing TD, because of its historical significant and the fact that it gave the Seahawks a late lead. But let’s go with the Seahawks’ first TD – Baldwin’s 15-yard run with a short pass from Tarvaris Jackson on a bubble screen. It came at the end of the seven-play, 80-yard drive, and marked only the second time this season the Seahawks have scored a TD on their first drive of a game.
It happened, in large part, because Jackson saw something before the snap and motioned Baldwin to get wider.
“T-Jack saw the defensive end and he kind of pushed me out a little bit further to give me room,” Baldwin said. “And Golden (Tate) made a helluva block. He pushed the corner all the way into the end zone pretty much and it made it easy for me.”
It was Baldwin’s fourth TD catch, which leads the team.
Defense: Larry Grant’s fumble-forcing strip of Jackson on a third-and-3 play with 1:07 left in the game. The Seahawks had reached the 49ers’ 48-yard line and only needed another first down or two to get into Steven Hauschka’s range for a game-winning field. But the 49ers’ Donte Whitner recovered the fumble at the San Francisco 36 to snuff the Seahawks’ best chance to pull this one out.
Special teams: Heath Farwell’s blocked punt that was recovered by Chris Maragos at the 49ers’ 4-yard line in the fourth quarter to set up Lynch’s go-ahead touchdown. Just the latest big play by the Seahawks’ special teams, because coordinator Brian Schneider detected an opponent’s vulnerability. This time it was the 49ers’ Blake Costanzo releasing early to get down field to cover the return.
“We practiced it all week,” Farwell said. “I kind of flashed my hands, so he’d think I was holding him up. Then I just went around him and it worked out the way it had in practice.”
Wide receiver Ben Obomanu strained a knee, and that was the only injury reported by coach Pete Carroll after the game.
Defensive end Red Bryant was presented with the Steve Largent Award in a ceremony prior to kickoff. His teammates voted Bryant the honor that goes annually to the player who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication and integrity of the Seahawks. Largent was the first recipient in 1989. But the second player to win it? Jacob Green, Bryant’s father-in-law.
The 49ers held substantial advantages in total yards (349-267), rushing yards (178-126) and time of possession (32:54-27:06). They converted only 3 of 14 third-down situations, but were 2 of 3 on fourth-down conversions.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor had 10 solo tackles to lead the Seahawks, while linebacker NaVorro Bowman had a game-high 12 tackles for the 49ers.
The 49ers came into the game with a league-high 35 take-aways, and the Seahawks had 10 during their three-game winning streak. But Jackson’s lost fumble was the only turnover in the game.
The 49ers wrapped up the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a bye in the first-round of the playoffs with the victory.
YOU DON’T SAY
“The disappointment today is going to be fuel to feed the fire for Arizona.” – Baldwin, on the Seahawks’ season finale on New Year’s Day against the Cardinals