By John Boyle
Defense holds, Seahawks headed to the Super Bowl
The 49ers made Seahawks fans sweat, driving as far as the 18-yard line, but that’s when Colin Kaepernick finally decided to test Richard Sherman, and it did not end well for him. Sherman tipped the pass, which was intended for Michael Crabtree, to Malcolm Smith, who secured the interception. Final score 23-17.
Hauschka FG makes it 23-17
Another 49ers turnover—this one a Colin Kaepernick pass right to Kam Chancellor—gave the Seahawks good field position, the Seahawks again struggled to do much with it, but did get a field goal to make it a six-point game.
Time to see if the defense, which has been very good all game, can come up with one more stop. San Francisco will begin its drive with 3:32 left ont he clock.
Seahawks come up empty after turnover
Cliff Avril, the king of the strip sack, came up with another one, and Michael Bennett returned to the 10-yard line, but the Seahawks couldn’t covert. After Seattle caught a break on a Jermaine Kearse fumble, that Novorro Bowman pretty clearly recovered, but was ruled Seahawks ball, the Seahawks went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1. It did not go well. Marshawn Lynch fumbled the exchange on the handoff, and the ball bounced around backwards until the Seahawks eventually recovered at the 15. That meant not only did the Seahawks not get point, the 49ers also got out of the shadow of their own end zone. Still a three-point game. Hang on, folks.
Seahawks take their first lead
Well how ‘bout that sequence of events? It looked like the Seahawks had killed a drive thanks to a Russell Wilson grounding penalty, but after the Seahawks picked up a good chunk of yards on third down, Pete Carroll decided to go for it on fourth and 7. When the 49ers jumped offside, Wilson took a shot deep knowing he had a free play, and Jermaine Kearse came up with a spectacular catch in the end zone.
It’s now 20-17 Seahawks with 13:44 left in the game.
49ers still lead after 3 quarters
If the Seahawks are going to win this thing, it’s going to require a fourth-quarter comeback. After three, the 49ers lead 17-13, and the Seahawks are facing third and a mile after an intentional grounding call that ended the quarter.
Big return sets up Seahawks FG
A low-scoring, defensive game has suddenly turned crazy.
After a 40-yard Marshawn Lynch run, and a 27-yard 49ers touchdown pass, Doug Baldwin got in on the big-play act, returning a kickoff 69-yards to give the Seahawks great field position. The Seahawks couldn’t get it in the end zone to tie the game, but did get a 40-yard field goal out of the possession to make it 17-13.
Crazy turn of events give 49ers the lead
The Seahawks darn near forced a turnover, and one play later, the 49ers had a touchdown. Michael Bennett stripped Colin Kaepernick, but after the ball bounced past two Seahawks, it was picked up by center Jonathan Goodwin, who picked up and ran for a one-yard gain. One play later, Kaepernick escaped pressure, then made a pretty insane throw on the run that somehow got just over the hands of a leaping Earl Thomas, and into the hands of Anquan Boldin.
49ers now lead 17-10.
Marshawn Lynch ties it
Man, Marshawn Lynch sure does love himself some playoff football. The author of the most famous run in Seahawks history, and of a 140-yard game last week, just got Seattle right back it the game with a 40-yard touchdown run. 10-10 game.
49ers lead 10-3 at halftime
Very little offense from either team (other than when Colin Kaepernick breaks out 58-yard runs), which is pretty much what we were expecting with these defenses. The bad news for the Seahawks is that they haven’t been able to get much going, but the good news for the home team is that it’s still a one-score game, because Seattle’s defense is holding up its end of the bargain.
The 49ers have 128 total yards, 98 of which have come on Kaepernick runs, while the Seahawks have 126. Marshawn Lynch has just 33 yards on 12 carries. Russell Wilson went 8 for 12 for 112 yards, not bad numbers, but he had one big fumble on the game’s first play that led to a 49ers field goal.
San Francisco will open the second half with the ball.
Hauschka FG makes it 10-3
The Seahawks finally got something going on offense, thanks to a classic “Russell Wilson runs around, avoids pressure, then hits a dude way down the field” play. This time it was a 51-yard pass to Doug Baldwin. Baldwin did suffer a hip injury on the play and briefly went to the locker room, but he just came running back out with his helmet on, so it seems like he should be able to return to the game.
That play took the Seahawks to the 11-yard line, but a sack quickly backed them up, and led to Seattle eventually having to settle for a field goal.
One quick note if you missed it on the TV replay, somebody on the 49ers sideline took out Jeremy Lane on punt coverage a little while back. It’s not entirely clear whether it was intentional or not, but by rule that should have drawn a flag anyway, and could lead to a fine for whoever that was. Here’s a gif of it from TheBigLead.com.
49ers take 10-0 lead
If the Seahawks can’t figure out a way to contain Colin Kaepernick on the run, they’re going to have a hard time getting back in this game. The 49ers quarterback is already over 100 yards rushing after a 58-yard run that saw four Seahawks miss a chance to take him down. Anthony Dixon eventually punched it in from the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal to give the 49ers a 10-0 lead.
The big play of that drive, aside from the long run, was a defensive holding penalty on Richard Sherman that kept the drive alive on third-and-9.
Still 3-0 after 1st quarter
The 49ers still have the lead, and are about to get the ball back with the Seahawks due to punt after the break. Seattle started its last drive at its own 1-yard line, and did well to at least change some field position, but a hold on Breno Giacomini more or less killed the drive. So far very little offense from either team, with the only points coming off the Seahawks turnover.
Early turnover give 49ers 3-0 lead
Things did not start well for the Seahawks, to say the least. On the first play of the game, Russell Wilson seemingly missed seeing an open Zach Miller, then while trying to avoid an Aldon Smith sack, lost the football. Smith recovered, giving the Seahawks the ball on Seattle’s 15-yard line. The defense did a good job limiting the damage, however, forcing a three-and-out and a short 49ers field goal. That’s hardly a disaster for Seattle, but after blowing out the 49ers twice here in the last two years, letting them get confidence early is hardly idea either.
Pregame and inactives
We’re an hour away from the Seahawks and 49ers kicking off with a Super Bowl berth on the line. Unlike last week, weather doesn’t look like it will be a factor. It’s currently 43 degrees with no wind or rain to speak of. Drew Brees probably would have liked this weather a lot better.
One surprise on Seattle’s inactives, Michael Bowie, who started at left guard last week, is inactive today. That means James Carpenter or Paul McQuistan will go back to that role. It’s possible that the Seahawks see Carpenter, who has the most size and strength out of that group, as a better matchup against a physical 49ers front seven.
The two 49ers who were questionable—CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring) and FB Will Tukuafo (knee)—are both active.
UPDATE: Based on pregame warmups, it looks like Carpenter will indeed take back the starting job at LG a week after being inactive.
And if you somehow missed it, the Broncos have already secured their spot in the Super Bowl, and are awaiting the winner of this game. Manning vs. the Legion of Boom has a nice ring to it, does it not? First, of course, the Seahawks have to take care of things on their end.
Seahawks inactives: WR Percy Harvin, RB Christine Michael, T/G Michael Bowie, T Caylin Hauptmann, DE O’Brien Schofield, DE Benson Mayowa.
49ers inactives: CB Eric Wright, TE Derek Carrier, LB Nick Moody, G Ryan Seymore, DT Quinton Dial, G Joe Looney, WR Jon Baldwin.