Niners wideout Michael Crabtree comes up with a 17-yard catch over the Seahawks' Bryon Maxwell. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
This past week, some of the 49ers had referred to Sunday’s clash with the Seahawks as a “statement” game.
After losing to the Seahawks twice in a row, San Francisco was eager to break that losing string and show it still belongs among the NFC’s elite teams.
The Niners knew they didn’t have a chance to overtake the Seahawks in the NFC West, but they also knew a victory would help cement their bid for a wild-card spot and prove they can beat very good teams.
“Anytime you play a team and you lose, the next opportunity you get to play them again, it’s definitely a statement game,” Niners tight end Vernon Davis told the San Jose Mercury News.
Consider their mission accomplished.
On Sunday at Candlestick Park, the 49ers got a 22-yard field goal from Phil Dawson with 31 seconds remaining to beat Seattle 19-17. The victory improves San Francisco to 9-4 with three games remaining.
One final Seattle bid for a comeback was snuffed out when Eric Wright – earlier injured in the game – intercepted a Russell Wilson heave with 20 seconds remaining.
The loss is just Seattle’s second this season in 13 games.
The outcome marked the first victory in three tries vs. Seattle for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and gave the third-year pro his fourth, fourth-quarter comeback victory and first since Game 1 of this season against the Packers.
After Seattle took the lead on a field goal with 6:25 remaining, Kaepernick and Co. put together a 10-play drive from their own 20 to the Seattle 3 to set up Dawson’s game-winning kick. The drive ate up nearly all the clock and featured a 51-yard burst by running back Frank Gore to the Seahawks' 18. Three plays later, Kaepernick scrambled 8 yards on a third-and-7 play to keep the drive alive, kill more clock and move Dawson further into chip-shot range.
The victory marks the 49ers’ third straight, and featured a more efficient offense than in the first game between the teams this season – a 29-3 Seahawks win in Seattle – and a sturdy defense that held running back Marshawn Lynch (72 yards rushing) more in check while also holding Wilson to under 200 yards passing.
The 49ers had 318 yards in total offense, including 163 on the ground, getting the huge “chunk play” of Gore’s burst to set up the winning score. Kaepernick completed 15-of-29 throws for 175 yards and one TD – to Vernon Davis just before halftime – and one interception.
Dawson’s winning kick was his 20th straight successful field goal, a team record, but he said afterward he didn’t know, or care about, the milestone.
“All I know is we beat Seattle,” he told reporters.
It was a statement, loud and clear.