Through all the deafening noise at CenturyLink Field in Seattle Sunday night, the San Francisco 49ers heard one very crystal-clear message:
Right now, the Seattle Seahawks are the kings of the NFC West.
The Niners, the division’s two-time defending champions, entered CenturyLink Sunday night with a chance to avenge a 42-13 beat-down in Seattle last December. Instead, the 49ers were knocked down again, this time 29-3.
The Seahawks are now 2-0, and the 49ers are 1-1. Though 14 games remain for each – and the Seahawks will have to play at Candlestick Dec. 8 -- the Seahawks delivered a powerful message after a long offseason of verbal sniping and gamesmanship between the bitter rivals:
Not in our house. Not this year.
Seattle’s defense was physical and stifling, holding Niners running back Frank Gore to just 16 yards on nine carries, smothering San Francisco’s wide receivers and holding the 49ers without a touchdown. Anquan Boldin, who had 13 catches in Week 1 vs. Green Bay, had just one catch Sunday night, unable to shake the tight coverage of Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman.
Earlier in the week, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll made no secret of what the Seahawks planned to do.
“Running the football and playing good defense and flying around on special teams is really good football,” Carroll told Sports Illustrated, about the impending matchup with the 49ers. “I think that’s the formula that we came here with and what we believed in.”
They did just that, picking up yardage all night on the ground with running backs Marshawn Lynch (98 yards) and Robert Turbin (31), while defensively keeping the 49ers from sustaining long drives.
In addition, the 49ers committed numerous penalties, were called for holding in their own end zone (for a safety), Kaepernick threw three interceptions and San Francisco failed to convert on an early opportunity, when it blocked a first-quarter punt. With a lost fumble, the 49ers committted four turnovers, a first for the Jim Harbaugh era.
Just as they seemed to unravel at CenturyLink in December, they unraveled again Sunday night – again on national television.
As one 49ers fan tweeted late in the game, “Have the 49ers done ANYTHING right tonight?”
Aside from absorbing a lopsided loss, the 49ers may also have suffered some long-term damage as well: nose tackle Ian Williams reportedly suffered a fractured ankle, rookie safety Eric Reid was lost for most of the game with a concussion and tight end Vernon Davis apparently hurt a hamstring late in the game.
The 49ers will get a chance to get back on track this coming Sunday at Candlestick Park, against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.