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Originally published December 23, 2012 at 9:28 PM | Page modified December 24, 2012 at 1:20 AM

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Wilson earns praise of his coach

Sure, the four passing touchdowns were nice, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll used other stats to detail the effectiveness of quarterback...

Seattle Times staff reporters

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Sure, the four passing touchdowns were nice, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll used other stats to detail the effectiveness of quarterback Russell Wilson in Sunday night's 42-13 win against San Francisco.

Seattle scored touchdowns on all four red-zone appearances and converted 11 of 13 third downs. And one failed conversion came on the final kneel-down by backup QB Matt Flynn.

"Third down and red zone is always about the quarterback, and Russell played like crazy tonight," Carroll said. "He did a great job. He kept us alive when we needed him to, and made great decisions."

Wilson has 25 passing touchdowns, second most for a rookie quarterback behind only Peyton Manning's 26 for the 1998 Indianapolis Colts. Wilson has 16 TD passes and only two interceptions at home, where the Seahawks are 7-0.

His four passing touchdowns against the Niners were one short of the team record.

Behind his leadership, the Seahawks have scored 150 points the past three games.

"I definitely think that we're getting better every week, and that's the goal," said Wilson, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 171 yards. "Especially for me, being a rookie and playing as many games as I have, my goal is to just continue to grow. I'm on a constant quest for knowledge, and our football team is, too. We're doing a great job, and the challenge is, 'Can you keep going?' I think that's what we're looking forward to."

Carroll praised Wilson's steadiness.

"He's just won us over, really," Carroll said. "We've changed. He's the same. ... He's rock solid after this one and ready to go to the next one already. That's who he is. He's a remarkable young man. We're just thrilled he's playing on our team."

Sherman plays after appeal

Cornerback Richard Sherman started for Seattle, but his availability the rest of the season may depend — at least in part — on the outcome of his appeal hearing Friday.

Sherman's argument at the hearing, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, is that the plastic cup used to take a urine sample was leaking, requiring the use of a second cup. Rulings on appeals generally take place within a week.

Sherman deflected four passes and returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown (Seattle's first since 1999) against the 49ers.

Streak ends for Niners' Smith

San Francisco's once-steely defense was without its iron man, and it showed.

Defensive lineman Justin Smith, a three-time Pro Bowler, was inactive with an elbow injury, ending his streak of 185 games played. The 33-year-old hadn't missed a start since his rookie season with the Bengals in 2001, when the Seahawks' Wilson was 12.

Without Smith, the 49ers hardly lived up to their reputation as one of the NFL's best defenses. Seattle's 42 points were the most allowed by San Francisco this season. Most of the damage was done in the first half, when the Seahawks did not punt en route to a 28-6 lead.

"He's a great football player; that helped us some," Carroll said of Smith's absence.

Injury update

San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis, the team's second-leading receiver, suffered a concussion on a big hit from Seattle safety Kam Chancellor in the first quarter and did not return.

Niners receiver Mario Manningham, who is third on the team in receiving yards, left in the third quarter with a knee injury.

Notes

• CBs Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant were inactive despite practicing Friday. Carroll said they're expected back next week from hamstring injuries.

• LB Bobby Wagner has 130 tackles this season, passing Keith Butler for second most by a Seahawks rookie. Terry Beeson set the team record of 136 in 1977.

• DE Red Bryant's blocked field goal, which was returned 90 yards for a TD by Sherman, was the fourth of Bryant's career. That's third most in Seahawks history. "That was an enormous moment," Carroll said.

• OL John Moffitt was a surprise scratch from the active roster after starting the previous two games at right guard. Rookie J.R. Sweezy got his first start since Week 1. Receiver Sidney Rice (knee) and safety Jeron Johnson (groin) each played for the Seahawks despite being listed as questionable.

Sam Adams, a former two-time All-Pro defensive tackle, raised the 12th Man flag before kickoff.

• The Seahawks have scored first in 12 of 15 games this season.

• The all-time series between the teams is tied 14-14.

• The Seahawks are 2-1 in prime-time games this season, including a controversial 14-12 win over Green Bay on Monday night of Week 3 and a 13-6 loss to San Francisco on Thursday night of Week 7. Seattle is 37-26 all-time on national television, 17-11 on Sunday night. The defeat was the Niners' first in seven prime-time games this season.

Rookie QB history
Most TD passes by a rookie quarterback:
TD Quarterback, team, year
26 Peyton Manning, Indianapolis, 1998
25 Russell Wilson, Seattle, 2012
22 Charlie Conerly, N.Y. Giants, 1948
21 Cam Newton, Carolina, 2011
21 Andrew Luck, Indianapolis, 2012
20 Dan Marino, Miami, 1983
20 Andy Dalton, Cincinnati, 2011
20 Robert Griffin III, Washington, 2012
19 Jim Plunkett, New England, 1971

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