All the talk during the week of what the Seahawks wouldn’t have against the 49ers — their top two running backs, half of their starting secondary — might have overlooked what they still had.
And on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, it was a return-to-flawless-form performance by NFL MVP candidate Russell Wilson, a return to perennial Pro Bowl form by Bobby Wagner and a return to pretty much the same by DK Metcalf that powered the Seahawks to a surprisingly easy 37-27 win over the defending NFC champion 49ers.
The 49ers came to town rolling after a blowout of the Patriots that seemed to indicated they were back to their Super Bowl form.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, were coming off their first loss and with six starters on their inactive list out due to injury.
And Wilson (three interceptions), Metcalf (a season-low two catches) and Wagner were all coming off subpar games.
But on this day Wilson (27 of 37 passing for 261 yards, four touchdown passes and no interceptions), Metcalf (career highs in catches, 12, and yards, 161) and Wagner (11 tackles, three for a loss, and four quarterback hits) were the three best players on the field all day and more than enough to allow Seattle to swamp the 49ers and again show that the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC may run through CenturyLink Field. Seattle is 6-1, the only one-loss team in the NFC.
Seattle blew the game open with touchdowns on four of five possessions from late in the first quarter to midway through the third, eventually taking a 30-7 lead with 14:07 left in the game, at which point Seattle had a 292-112 edge in yards.
Backup quarterback Nick Mullens, replacing an injured Jimmy Garoppolo, led the 49ers to three fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the game look more competitive than it really was — and really, would it be the 2020 Seahawks if there wasn’t just a tiny bit of fourth-quarter nervousness?
But for most of the day there was little doubt about who was the better team.
The 49ers’ frustration got the best of them in a potentially pretty ugly way in the late going when safety Jimmie Ward hit Wilson up high after Wilson slid at the end of a run with 3:53 left, causing most of the rest of the Seattle offense to rush to Wilson’s defense.
The penalty gave Seattle a first down and led to one final touchdown by an offense that continues to be the most efficient in the NFL.
The Seahawks led 13-7 at the end of a first half that was the best half of defense for Seattle all year, holding the 49ers to a net of 116 yards and just 3.4 per play. The 49ers came into the game averaging 5.9 per play.
Seattle also had a key stop on a third down when the 49ers had reached the Seahawks’ 37-yard line on its first series, and then picked of a pass deep in Seahawks territory on the next series.
The defensive resurgence was complemented by another day of Wilson-to-Metcalf magic as the two hooked up six times for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter.
It was rough for the Seattle offense early as the Seahawks had just a net of five yards on its first two possessions.
But the highest-scoring offense in the NFL reverted to form the rest of the half with marches of 86 and 81 yards, Wilson hitting Metcalf for touchdowns to cap both.
The first drive started after D.J. Reed picked off a pass at the San Francisco 14-yard line.
After Wilson moved the Seahawks to the San Francisco 46, he hit Metcalf on a short crossing route.
Metcalf caught the pass near the left hash mark at about the 38, juked Fred Warner in the middle of the field and then got a good block from Jacob Hollister to clear a path down the sideline and into the end zone.
And just like that, a Seattle team that had seemed dominated for most of the first quarter led 6-0.
The 49ers drove 75 yards to take the lead at 7-6 on their next possession, doing so on a punishing 14 plays in 8:01, aided by two Seattle penalties.
But the Seahawks quickly responded with another long drive. A 35-yard Wilson-to-Metcalf connection took it to the 12.
A few plays later, after an apparent DeeJay Dallas TD was ruled down at the 1, Wilson hit Metcalf for another TD from two yards and a 13-7 halftime lead.
Wilson was 13 of 18 for 155 yards and two TDs in the first half with a passer rating of 135.2, vastly outplaying the erratic Garoppolo, who was 10 of 15 for 78 yards and a rating of 51.5.
Seattle then forced a three-and-out of the 49ers to start the second half and got the ball at its 37.
Wilson then completed all four of his passes and ran once for 21 yards as the Seahawks moved a pretty easy 63 yards for a touchdown to take a 20-7 lead, the score coming on a 2-yard pass from Wilson to Dallas on third down, the rookie finally getting his first NFL touchdown.
The Seahawks then forced a fumble by former UW standout Dante Pettis on the ensuing kickoff, with Cody Barton jarring the ball loose and Nick Bellore recovering at the San Francisco 21.
A few plays later, Wilson evaded the rush on a third-and-six to hit David Moore for his fourth touchdown pass of the game and give Seattle a 27-7 lead with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
The 49ers were again stopped on their next drive, with Seattle getting its third sack of the game on third down and the Seahawks drove for a Jason Myers field goal to make it 30-7.
At that point, Seattle had a 292-112 edge in yards, and the 49ers pulled Garoppolo — who has been playing with a high-ankle sprain that appeared to get aggravated — for Nick Mullens.
Mullens led the 49ers on a long scoring drive to make it 30-14.
But by then it was too little, too late for San Francisco and with the 49ers adding a few more injuries — tight end George Kittle joined Garoppolo in being hurt late in the game — this felt like the kind of game that both teams may view as a turning point later in the season.
By Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times