LIVE Game Blog: 49ers vs. Seahawks

It's the biggest game yet of the Mike Nolan era as the 49ers ride a two-game winning streak into today's key divisional clash with defending NFC champion Seattle, and SFI editor in chief Craig Massei will keep you up to date on the action with live reports and commentary from Monster Park in San Francisco. Make sure to refresh this page every 15 minutes for running updates throughout the game.

(12:46) The Seahawks leave the field after their pre-game warmups to a cascade of boos from a Monster Park that is surprisingly filled with fans this early in the afternoon. The past few years, the bulk of the crowd doesn't usually begin filing in their seats until a few minutes before kickoff, perhaps an indication they want to spend as little time as possible torturing themselves with what's happening on the field. But it's different today with the 49ers coming home with a two-game winning streak with an opportunity to actually vault themselves into the thick of the NFC playoff chase. There's an aura of excitement in the air as the 49ers have an opportunity to make a statement against the two-time defending NFC West champions …

(12:53) There's Mike Nolan on the sidelines, looking like a CEO with his black suit, white shirt and striped tie. The NFL is allowing him to wear the snappy apparel twice this season as a "test-drive" after Nolan first made the request to do so last year as homage to his father Dick - who coached the 49ers from 1968-1975 - and other coaches from a previous NFL era who came to their jobs on Sundays dressed for success …

(1:02) The Seahawks call heads, the coin comes down tails, so the 49ers will be working on offense first and will have first crack at setting the tempo. The Niners looked pretty focused as they were being introduced without a lot of frivolous emotion being tossed around. They look as ready as they'll ever be for their chance to finally make some noise in the NFC after more than two seasons of silence …

(1:11) The 49ers get out near midfield on their opening possession, which is aided by a few encroachment penalties on the Seahawks. It's third-and-short, but quarterback Alex Smith misfires for the second time on the drive. He misses his new favorite third-down target, Arnaz Battle, who is open on the play and would have easily picked up the first past the 50-yard line. Smith looks a little shaky at the start, which isn't usually the case. He needs to calm down and settle in …

(1:14) Andy Lee sends a punt inside the Seattle 10-yard line, but Nate Burleson tries to return it anyway and is immediately buried. The Seahawks come out with reigning NFL MVP Shaun Alexander in the backfield for the first time since Week 2, but Seneca Wallace is at quarterback for the fourth consecutive week in place of Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck, who still is nursing a sprained knee ligament …

(1:18) It's third-and-long, but the 49ers miss on a blitz with Wallace in the end zone, and he scampers free down the left side for a first down to give the Seahawks some breathing room. Alexander isn't getting much on the ground, but the Seahawks keep moving with short passes with a few runs mixed in. Seattle is past midfield now, and their offense is in control …

(1:19) But not anymore! Wallace drops back and sails a pass deep down the middle of the field, but Keith Lewis is playing center field and he comes through with the pick on a jump ball at the 8-yard line. Big play. All of sudden, a defense so ravaged in October is becoming very opportunistic and making opponents pay for their mistakes. That's San Francisco's eighth takeaway in the past nine quarters of action …

(1:21) And there goes Frank Gore! The offense responds with a big play of its own to get the 49ers out of a hole as Gore goes bursting through the middle, runs through a tackle attempt by cornerback Kelly Herndon, then jukes safety Jordan Babineaux in the open field. He's off to the races, and isn't pulled down until he's rumbled for 51 yards. The 49ers are in business …

(1:26) A nice misdirection call by offensive coordinator Norv Turner, and Smith throws across the field to a wide-open Eric Johnson, who takes it 18 yards to put the 49ers at the Seattle 23. But the 49ers' struggles as they close in on the red zone continue, and they only get to the 21 before settling for a 39-yard Joe Nedney field goal. Still, that's first blood, and now the Niners have the crowd into it and clearly have seized the momentum. It's 3-0 San Francisco with 4:24 to play in the opening quarter …

(1:35) Another stop for the San Francisco defense as Wallace feels pressure and throws incomplete on third down. Punter Ryan Plackemeier pins the 49ers deep, however, with a booming 57-yard punt. But there's Gore, bumping over the right side for nine yards on first down. The Seahawks are going to see a lot of this guy today …

(1:39) And that's the way the first quarter ends, 3-0 San Francisco. The 49ers now have held the lead at the end of their last eight quarters of football …

(1:46) The 49ers punt the football back to Seattle, but they get it right back on another big play by the defense. Walt Harris has fantastic coverage on Deion Branch, and he turns just as Wallace is delivering the football and steps in front of Branch to make his NFC-leading fifth interception of the season. The 49ers are getting serious! They're set up at the Seattle 40, and now they have to stop playing it so conservative on offense and put it in the end zone …

(1:51) Play-action pass on first down, and Smith fires to Antonio Bryant over the middle for 16 yards. That's more like it! On the next play, Smith leans to hand off to Gore … But no! It's a reverse to Byran Gilmore for 10 more yards. Back to Gore now, and he slips a tackle, and another …and almost breaks away for a touchdown before the last defender trips him up …

(1:53) Now it's third-and-5 from the 9, and getting it into the end zone would be so huge here instead of settling for another Nedney field goal. Smith takes a quick drop. He's got Battle slanting over the middle. Great throw! Battle splits defenders and takes it into the end zone. It's 10-0 49ers, and now the crowd's really getting into it. They can feel something starting to happen here …

(2:00) Who are these guys? The defense comes up with another great stop. Wallace slips away from the pocket for a first down - that guy is as quick as heck and the 49ers are going to have to watch their contain on him all afternoon - but then the Seahawks try to fill San Francisco by slipping Maurice Morris out of the backfield on a motion pass. But there's Brandon Moore! He's not biting on the play-action, and he buries Morris for a 7-yard loss. The Seahawks get a lot of that back on second down, but a pressured Wallace throws incomplete on third down, and it's ball back to San Francisco …

(2:04) The 49ers are going right down the field on the stunned Seahawks defense. Gore shoots up the middle for 20 yards on first down. Now it's a short pass to Battle in the left flat, and he breaks free and follows blockers for a 23-yard gain! San Francisco's offensive linemen are simply mauling the Seahawks. And there it is again on the next play! Gore follows fullback Moran Norris for a 23-yard gain, and how he's already over 100 yards for the afternoon. The 49ers are blowing the Seahawks away, and now they're at the 3-yard line. Time to put it in the end zone again, and if that happens, the 49ers are REALLY onto something here …

(2:07) And, yes, they are! After Michael Robinson takes it to yards down to the 1-yard line on first down, the 49ers pack it in and the Seattle defense bits on the Smith's play fake. Smith pivots and turns, and it's a naked bootleg with a lot of open space. Smith out-races safety Ken Hamlin to the corner … and then dives for the pylon as he runs out of real estate. A late-arriving Hamlin gets a good lick on him, but Smith is in! Touchdown! Now it's 17-0, 49ers. Is this really happening? …

(2:09) Yes, it really is, and the 49ers are beginning to act like they‘re just getting started. On Seattle's next play from scrimmage, Wallace drops back and finds tight end Jerramy Stevens wide open over the middle for a healthy gain. But as he turns up field to get more yardage, Mark Roman pops the ball out of Stevens' hands from behind … and right into the hands of Lewis! San Francisco's new ballhawk follows blockers and takes it back 23 yards to the Seattle 23. Boy, oh, boy …

(2:18) A double-reverse on first down, and Battle takes it for 12 yards around left end. Gore then carries three times for 14 yards to give the 49ers a first-and goal at the 5. Are they going in again? Yes! Smith hits Battle on the left side, and jukes a tackler, dives for the end zone … and he's in! This is amazing …

(2:22) But no, he's not in. The officials decide to review the play, even though it looks as though Battle got the ball over the plan of the goal line before his knee hits the ground. But after a long, lengthy review, it's ruled otherwise. What? C'mon, he was in. The officials spot the ball two inches from the goal line - it's practically touching the goal line. Nolan should go for it. But he doesn't even hesitate. Nedney, already on the field to kick the extra point, stays there to kick an 18-yard field goal. So it's 20-0 instead of 24-0 …

(2:23) But, hey, who's complaining? The 49ers are blowing out the Seahawks - and that's not a misprint. The scoreboard reads San Francisco 20, Seattle a big, fat 0 as the teams head for the locker rooms at the intermission …

(2:30) And this isn't just any ordinary halftime at Monster Park. It's Jerry Rice's retirement ceremony, and some of the greatest faces in 49ers history are here to watch. But first, it's a stirring rendition of "Hero" sung by Rice's daughter, Jacqui, as a squad of cheerleaders form the number "80" on both sides of the platform. Then the great ones come out. It's Bill Walsh, followed by George Seifert to the podium. And then the John York family - he, his wife Denise and son Jed - who get a round of boos. Then former owner Eddie DeBartolo and former team president Carmen Policy. They're followed by some of the luminary Hall of Fame players - Bob St. Clair, Hugh McElhenny, Steve Young, Y.A. Tittle. This is pretty awesome …

(2:33) Rice takes the podium to a stirring ovation. "I prepared a speech, but I'm going to talk from the heart," Rice says with emotion. He goes on to tell the story of how Bill Walsh first got the notion of drafting the graceful receiver from tiny Mississippi Valley State who would help transform Walsh's vaunted West Coast offense while becoming the greatest receiver in NFL history. It doesn't get much better than this for a 49ers great who deserves this kind of adulation …

(2:39) Rice finished by saying he wants to catch one more pass from Young. They both step down from the podium, and Rice glides down the field in his tan suit. Young fires a perfect spiral 20 yards in the air and, of course, Rice reels it in and takes it to the house, gliding into the end zone at Monster Park one final time …

(2:44) Now it's back to the action, and the Seahawks take the initiative. There's Alexander - who was held to just nine yards rushing on seven carries in the first half - finally breaking a run, bursting into open field for a 16-yard gain to take it to the San Francisco 40. After a two-yard run by Alexander, the San Francisco defense - which limited Seattle to 96 yards total offense in the first half - finally suffers a breakdown. Branch takes an out pass in the flat, then splits through two San Francisco defenders who each were with a yard of making the play. He's gone, 38 yards into the end zone. That sure didn't take long …

(2:53) The 49ers give it right back to Seattle after a three-and-out. That's not good. It's another good punt by Andy Lee, but Nate Burleson takes it back 15 yards to set up the Seahawks at their own 40. But after the Seahawks get it out to the 46, the defense steps up - again. And guess who? Moore drops Alexander for a six-yard loss. Then, on third-and-10, Shawntae Spencer makes an appearance, stepping into break up Wallace's pass. Good stop by the Niners …

(2:57) And there goes Gore on first down! He's into the clear again. He's finally pushed out of bounds after a 50-yard gain that puts him over 1,000 yards for the season. Gore had 130 yards rushing on 13 carries at halftime, and now he's just taken the 49ers all the way down to the Seattle 30 …

(3:01) The 49ers drive down to the 13, but Smith runs out of room on his third-down rollout and has to throw it away. San Francisco will take the three points here. But no! Defensive tackle Craig Terrill gets a hand on Nedney's gimme 30-yard attempt, and it flutters left of the goal posts. Big play for the Seahawks, and now their back on offense with a chance to get back within one score …

(3:06) But the D steps up again. Wallace throws incomplete on third down to Darrell Jackson, who's blanked on the play by Harris. Great defense. The ball goes right back to the 49ers. On second-and-10, Smith hits tight end Eric Johnson on short pass in the flat, and he breaks away from defenders and turns it into a 17-yard play to get the 49ers out of the shadow of their own end zone. Now it's third-and-4, and Smith goes down field to Battle on a deep out. Battle skies into the air past midfield and appears to make a great leaping catch. But officials rule he didn't have possession as he slams to the ground and his helmet flies off. The Seahawks get another stop …. (3:16) And the third quarter ends with Seattle facing second-and-16 from the San Francisco 22 after the Seahawks get flagged for holding. It's 20-7 49ers, and they're 15 minutes away from a huge, huge victory …

(3:21) The Seahawks face a third-and-21, and Jackson gets 19 yards on a pass from Wallace to take the ball up to the Seattle. Seattle coach Mike Holmgren's thinking about going for it. Do it, dude! But instead, he doesn't like the spot, shows his frustration by throwing up his arms, then orders a punt. Another boomer by Plackemeier, and the 49ers are starting at their 18 …

(3:29) Third-and-4 for the 49ers. Who you gonna call? Gore! Smith faces a heavy blitz, but gets the ball off into the right flat, where Gore reaches out to grab it with the fingertips on his right hand, then explodes up field for a 16-yard gain and first down. What doesn't this guy do? Then two plays later, Smith unloads the long ball. Bryant has broken free, but the pass is a little short. But Bryant goes up to grab it away from Babineaux for a 43-yard gain to the Seattle 15. But there's a flag in the backfield. This one's coming back. Holding on tackle Jonas Jennings, and a promising drive stalls …

(3:35) The Seahawks are driving now. Wallace goes to Jackson for 11 yards, then Branch for 23 to get into San Francisco territory. There's a five-yard penalty on the Niners. First-and-10 from the 41. Oh, no! Jackson flies down the right sideline behind Sammy Davis, who doesn't even seem to be running full speed. Roman arrives late, and Wallace puts it right on the money in the corner of the end zone. How do you give up that play? The lead is 20-14 now with 6:40 to play, and those four points that got taken of the scoreboard at halftime are looking awfully big now to the 49ers …

(3:44) The 49ers take over at their own 33 with 6:33 to play but they're not going anywhere. Smith gets off a shovel pass to Gore for two yards on first down, but he's stuffed up the middle for a 1-yard loss on second down. Smith buys some time and completes his third-down pass to Johnson in the left flat, but it's not going to be enough. The 49ers have to give up the ball. It's another high, sailing punt by Lee, and good coverage. The Seahawks take over at their own 22 with 4:11 to play. The game is put on the defense again …

(3:51) First-and-10 from the Seattle 28, and the 49ers get a big play, Marques Douglas sacking Wallace for a 10-yard loss. It's third-and-20, but Branch gets 18 yards back. Fourth-and-2 from the Seattle 38, and the Seahawks are going for it. This could be the game. It's handoff to Alexander, sweeping the left side. The 49ers are all over him! It's not even close. The defense does it again! First down, 49ers, at the Seattle 36 with 1:53 to play, and one first down will just about do it …

(3:53) But Gore fumbles on first down! The Seahawks recover at their 34 with 1:47 still left. This could end up as a heartbreaker. But there's a Roderick Green sighting! He races around the left end for a blind-side sack of Wallace on first down. Second-and-21 from the 24. Wallace back to pass again. He throws for Jackson down the right side. He finds Harris instead! He makes the pick!! Take that ball back, 49ers! That should about do it. There goes Gore bursting up the middle for 17 yards on first down. I finally feel safe saying this one is over …

(3:59) But no! This is fricking unbelievable. The 49ers run Maurice Hicks into the line three times, forcing Seattle to burn its timeouts. But Jennings is injured on the third-down run, and - because it happened inside the two-minute warning - that stops the clock and forced the 49ers to burn a timeout. But have no fear. Nedney comes on for a 27-yard field-goal attempt, and that should seal the deal. But he missed it! Seattle gets the ball back at the 20 with 34 seconds to play still trailing by a point. Unfricking believable …

(4:02) But it doesn't matter. The 49ers and their fans finally can take that big sigh of relief. Wallace throws incomplete on first and second down, then drops off a short pass on third down. It's fourth-and-7 with 18 seconds left, and this is it. Wallace completes a short pass to fullback Mack Strong underneath coverage, and he has no option but to lateral the ball backwards. Marcus Hudson recovers and, finally, that REALLY IS IT. The 49ers beat the Seahawks 20-14, stretching their winning streak to three games and snapping their six-game losing streak to the Seahawks. It's a whole new season, folks …

Make sure to check back with SFIllustrated.com later this afternoon and evening for complete post-game coverage and comments from both locker rooms -- CM.


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