San Francisco pulls out clutch victory at hostile CenturyLink Field
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh says, "I think it was a playoff type of atmosphere, a playoff type of a game."
Seattle Times staff reporter
For the San Francisco 49ers, a 19-17 comeback win Saturday against the Seahawks in a frenzied road environment was as much about preparation as it was about the result.
"I think it was a playoff type of atmosphere, a playoff type of a game," said coach Jim Harbaugh, whose team clinched the NFC West title weeks ago. "It was a great preview for our team of what the playoffs are going to be like."
San Francisco players and coaches particularly took pride in overcoming adversity in the thrilling, back-and-forth divisional bout.
The visitors suffered a pair of potentially serious injuries, saw their top-ranked run defense gashed by Marshawn Lynch and had a blocked punt lead to a late go-ahead score by the Seahawks — all in front of a raucous CenturyLink Field crowd of 66,697.
Still, the 49ers took the lead for good with 2:57 left on a 39-yard field goal by David Akers, which was set up by a clutch 41-yard reception on the sideline by receiver Michael Crabtree.
A pair of crucial late-game stops, particularly a forced fumble by linebacker Larry Grant on quarterback Tarvaris Jackson with just over a minute remaining, secured the satisfying win.
"That's one of those good ol' division games right there," said defensive lineman Justin Smith.
Added quarterback Alex Smith: "This is about as hostile an environment as it gets."
The 49ers (12-3) can clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs with a win at St. Louis in the regular-season finale, but that isn't to say all the news was positive stemming from the Seattle sweep.
Tight end/fullback Delanie Walker went to the hospital after suffering a jaw injury in the first half, but was able to fly back with the team. Also, receiver Kyle Williams suffered an apparent concussion on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter.
In addition, San Francisco's run defense — whose 71.5 yards/game allowed was the league's best — saw two impressive streaks end.
Lynch ran for 107 yards, becoming the first 49ers opponents to eclipse 100 yards rushing in 36 games dating to Nov. 22, 2009. Lynch's 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the first score San Francisco allowed on the ground all season.
"That dude's an animal," Grant said.
But not even a beast could stop the postseason-bound 49ers on Saturday.
"Nobody flinched," Harbaugh said. "In some real difficult situations, in some real pressure-to-perform situations, our guys performed. ... Our guys really rose to the occasion."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.
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