Seahawks' six sacks keep 49ers buried
This game meant everything to the Seahawks, and it showed. How much did they want this 23-3 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Frank Gore vs. SeattleIn 2006, San Francisco running back Frank Gore ran rampant over the Seahawks defense in two 49ers victories. Sunday, the Seahawks held Gore under 80 yards rushing. A look at the teams' last three meetings and Gore's efforts:
Nov. 19, 2006
At San Francisco 20, Seattle 14
24 carries, 212 yards, long run of 51
Dec. 14, 2006
San Francisco 24, at Seattle 14
29 carries, 144 yards, TD, long run of 40
Seattle 23, at San Francisco 3
16 carries, 79 yards, long run of 17
SAN FRANCISCO — This game meant everything to the Seahawks, and it showed.
How much did they want this 23-3 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers?
All week long, they pulled out all the stops in practice with backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, working him into the offense to add more athleticism.
They prepared hard for young gunslinger Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore, the 49ers' aggressive defensive front seven and their mammoth offensive line.
The result? Wallace was just one of numerous playmakers on offense for Seattle.
More importantly, though, none of those San Francisco offensive weapons became a factor, and even when the 49ers successfully tried some trickery — an onside kick to start the second half — backup quarterback Trent Dilfer was intercepted by Seattle's Marcus Trufant on the very next play.
"Early in the year, it was about as big a game as you could play," coach Mike Holmgren said. "We haven't played our best football on the road. ... The guys played very, very hard and they wanted the game badly, so I'm very happy about that."
Gore was held to 79 yards on 16 carries, a far cry from his 212- and 144-yard games last season in the 49ers' sweep of the Seahawks. The 49ers gained just 184 yards of total offense Sunday.
"This was the players' game," defensive coordinator John Marshall said. "These guys knew what they had to do and they did it right from the get-go and finished."
Did they ever. The convincing victory firmly established the 3-1 Seahawks as the team to beat in the NFC West.
Not that they weren't before that, having won three consecutive division titles.
But this was Smackdown Sunday.
It was defensive tackle Rocky Bernard knocking Smith out of the game on the 49ers' first possession with a sack. Smith landed hard on his throwing shoulder and separated it.
It was former 49er Julian Peterson sacking Dilfer three times, forcing two fumbles and frolicking with delight before his former team's fans.
It was Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill knifing into the backfield to stuff Gore. And Hill, Bernard, Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp doing their part, tossing San Francisco's offensive linemen aside and drilling Dilfer on his throws if not sacking him, which they did five times. It was Trufant with two interceptions and the Seahawks not allowing even a sniff of a big play whenever Dilfer did have time to throw.
"It was probably their best game of the year so far," Holmgren said of his defensive line and linebackers. "We expect a lot from our defense and I think their best football's ahead of them."
Imagine that, Seahawks fans.
Not that the offense should be ignored. The Matt Hasselbeck-to-Deion Branch connection was as good as it was last week, with Branch catching seven passes for 130 yards and Hasselbeck continuing his hot start to the season by completing 23 of 31 passes for 281 yards and two TDs.
The 49ers (2-2) stymied the Seahawks for a quarter. But on offense, San Francisco didn't get a first down until midway through the second quarter.
The Seahawks took a 10-0 lead on two plays in the second quarter — Hasselbeck to Branch for 65 yards and Hasselbeck to Bobby Engram for 17 yards and a touchdown. It was 13-0 at halftime.
San Francisco's offense was in such disarray that its fans booed running plays in the second half. On one third-quarter drive, the 49ers were flagged for two false starts and illegal formation, part of nine 49ers penalties.
The Seahawks went ahead 20-0 when Hasselbeck hit tight end Marcus Pollard for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
But back to the defense. For all of its problems keeping opponents' yardage totals down and generating a consistent pass rush in Weeks 1 through 3, the Seahawks achieved both Sunday.
"If you want to think we're small, fine," Marshall said. "There weren't a lot of places to run the ball."
Said Tatupu, who had eight tackles and a forced fumble: "Preparation is everything. We came out with purpose."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Steady at the helm|
|Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck continued his steady play in Week 4. A look at Hasselbeck's first four games this season:|
|Sept. 9||At Seattle 20, Tampa Bay 6||113.5||17||24||222||49||1||0|
|Sept. 16||At Arizona 23, Seattle 20||94.8||22||36||281||37||1||0|
|Sept. 23||At Seattle 24, Cincinnati 21||88.6||24||37||248||42||3||2|
|Sunday||Seattle 23, at San Francisco 3||109.7||23||31||281||65||2||1|
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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