SAN FRANCISCO — Russell Wilson’s final pass of the game was his longest completion of the second half.
The fact it was thrown from his own end zone on fourth down and resulted in a 16-yard gain that left Seattle short of the first down demonstrated not only how far away the Seahawks were from winning the game Thursday in San Francisco, but the distance Seattle has to go in the NFC West after a 13-6 defeat against the 49ers.
“It was so close,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
Yet it felt so far away, not only because a penalty on that play would have negated any first down, but because Wilson completed only three passes in the second half. Seattle didn’t get the ball outside of its own 31 on any of its three possessions in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks weren’t blown out. Actually it was almost worse than that as they were run over. Frank Gore became the first player to rush for more than 100 yards against Seattle in nearly a year.
No last-minute comeback. Not this time as the team with a penchant for last-minute drama never got the ball in the 49ers’ half of the field in the fourth quarter, let alone within striking distance.
“We found ourselves in the midst of a slugfest here tonight,” Carroll said.
And all Seattle could manage was a pair of first-half jabs as Steven Hauschka kicked two field goals. In the second half, the 49ers were the only ones connecting. They ran the ball with impunity and drove the ball inside the Seattle 20-yard line on each of their first three possessions in the second half. It didn’t seem to matter how many times the Seahawks got the ball in the final period, it was hard to imagine them ever scoring.
Wilson completed all of one pass on Seattle’s first four possession of the second half, and it resulted in a loss of 2 yards. He was 3-for-10 passing after halftime for 19 yards.
“They covered their guys a little tighter,” Wilson said afterward. “We couldn’t get what we wanted to do. That’s part of the game. We’ve got to keep moving, stay playing one play at a time. We still had opportunities to capitalize, and for whatever reason we came up short.”
Those opportunities came in the first half, chances that the Seahawks didn’t let slip through their fingers so much as they bounced off their hands.
Rookie running back Robert Turbin had a pass hit him in the hands near the 49ers’ goal line in the first quarter, but couldn’t hold on. Tight end Evan Moore let the ball go through his hands in the second quarter and Golden Tate dropped two balls and was replaced by Braylon Edwards for a time, and Seattle finished with five passes clearly dropped.
“There were plays in this game that we’ll always want to know: What would happen if we made that play?” Carroll said.
The Seahawks led 6-3 at halftime, but they had outgained the 49ers 177-115, and while they had moved the ball, they hadn’t gotten close. Seattle ran a total of one play inside the 49ers’ 20-yard line in this game, and it resulted in an incompletion.
Compare that to the 49ers’ series of second-half processions in which they drove the ball into the red zone on each of the first three possessions, scoring first a touchdown and later a field goal. An interception by the Seahawks’ Brandon Browner was the only thing that kept the Seahawks in position to tie the score at the end.
And while Seattle had two possessions in the final five minutes, it never appeared the Seahawks really had a chance. Not the way San Francisco’s defense was playing and the way Seattle struggled throwing.
“That was the most physical 30 minutes of football, in that second half, that I’ve ever seen our team play,” said Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco’s head coach.
Seattle’s final opportunity ended with Wilson backed up to his own end zone, guard Paul McQuistan penalized for an illegal block that would have resulted in a safety had Seattle gained the first down. Instead, Wilson’s completion to Ben Obomanu came up a yard short of the first down, dropping Seattle to 4-3 and showing how far this team still has to go.