49ers replay: 'We're scary'

At the center of the 49ers' improbable 24-14 victory over the Seahawks on Thursday night were second-year players Alex Smith and Frank Gore.

"That is what I'm telling people," Gore said. "We're scary. Me and Alex, this is our second year (together)."

Smith threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score, and Gore had 106 of his 144 rushing yards in the fourth quarter to lead the 49ers to the impressive win. The 49ers, who recorded a combined six victories the past two seasons, improved to 6-8 on the season and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.

The 49ers swept the season series against the NFC West-leading Seahawks, who had beaten San Francisco six consecutive times entering this season.

"I like to think this is who we are," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said.

Eight of the 49ers' first nine drives were three-and-outs. Then, the 49ers' offense started to get into gear on the final play of the third quarter when Smith hit receiver Arnaz Battle with a 54-yard completion. From there, Smith and Gore took over.

Gore rushed for a franchise-record 212 yards the first time the 49ers played. But the Seahawks were determined not to let Gore beat them.

"They played tough," Gore said. "But our quarterback opened it up. He started making the big pass down the field. Then, we kept running, kept running, and we started wearing them down and that's what happened."

Gore, a second-year player, is closing in on history in his first season as the featured back. He has gained 1,491 yards this season, temporarily giving him the NFL rushing lead going into the weekend games - Kansas City's Larry Johnson was at 1,432, and San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson had 1,427. In the NFC, Gore had a 209-yard edge over the Giants' Tiki Barber.

Since 1970, only four running backs have led their conference in rushing yardage while maintaining a 5.5 or higher per-carry average. The last to do so was Barry Sanders (6.1) in 1997. The others are O.J. Simpson (twice), Walter Payton and Eric Dickerson. Sanders did it twice.

Gore, averaging 5.5 yards a carry, is just 79 yards behind Garrison Hearst's club record of 1,570 yards in 1998.

"My O-line, my fullback, my receivers, we kept going at it," Gore said. "We kept going at it."

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Center Eric Heitmann sustained a broken right tibia, the weight-bearing bone in his leg, and was admitted into Harbor View Hospital for surgery Thursday evening. He was expected to remain in the Seattle hospital for a couple of days, a team spokesman said. He will require an estimated three to four months of rehabilitation.

Heitmann went down with about six minutes remaining in the first quarter when tight end Billy Bajema blocked Seahawks defensive end Darryl Tapp into his right side. Heitmann's leg was placed in an air cast, and he was carted off the field.

Former street free agent Tony Wragge entered the game in place of Heitmann and ahead of second-year player David Baas, whom the 49ers chose with the No. 33 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

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Coach Mike Nolan described his conversation with tight end Vernon Davis as "intense" after the rookie was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. After catching an 8-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, Davis was penalized 15 yards for using a pylon in the end zone as a prop. Davis put his right foot on the pylon as he looked to the crowd and flapped his arms.

"Vernon's a very good kid," Nolan said. "He just has to learn a few things."

Davis said he did not believe he should have been penalized, although it is illegal to use a pylon in a celebration. He said Nolan was upset at him, but Davis said he was not upset with himself.

"No, I wasn't upset at myself," he said. "It was just a mistake. I don't think I should've gotten a flag for it. ... I don't think I used it as a prop."

--- CB Shawntae Spencer returned to action after missing three games with an ankle sprain. Spencer had a big game with his first interception of the season, two passes defensed and six tackles.
--- S Mark Roman broke up three passes and had an interception, his first with the 49ers. He intercepted Matt Hasselbeck's third-quarter pass in the end zone and returned it 27 yards.
--- LB Manny Lawson did not start and saw limited action because the 49ers employed extra defensive backs throughout the game. Lawson still made a contribution with two tackles and a sack.
--- WR Arnaz Battle continues to develop into a reliable receiver. He caught five passes for a career-high 97 yards against the Seahawks, including a 54-yarder on the final play of the third quarter that helped ignite the offense.
--- RB Frank Gore rushed for 144 yards on 29 carries, and he also caught four passes for 34 yards, including a leaping 20-yard touchdown catch. Gore leads the 49ers with 53 receptions on the season.

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