For the second straight year, the 49ers season was effectively ended in Seattle amid a number of costly injuries as the Seahawks swept the season series with 17-7 victory Sunday.
From the start of the game the 49ers seemed destined for failure due to factors outside of their control. They entered the game without four starters and left without two more.
The 12th man Sunday afternoon wasn’t the crowd, but the flag-happy referee crew that gifted the Seahawks a crucial touchdown late in the game.
With a makeshift line, Colin Kaepernick rebounded from rocky efforts in the previous two games to put up 141 yards on 11-of-19 passing, while scrambling for 46 yards with his feet.
With injuries to Gore, Hyde and LB Chris Borland, the 49ers effort took a sharp turn for the worse in the second half, as Seattle answered back with 14 unanswered points to close out the game.
The Seahawks got on the board first when S Eric Reid made a pair of costly and uncharacteristic mistakes by earning a pair of personal fouls that netted Seattle 30 free yards.
The safety picked up his first flag after laying a late hit on WR Doug Baldwin who was heading out of bounds after pulling in a 8-yard reception. The second came a few plays later with a shattering hit on WR Paul Richardson.
San Francisco would respond with perhaps their best and most balanced offensive drive of the past few months.
A pair of completions by Kaepernick would help to keep San Francisco alive early, but it was the return of the ground game that allowed the 49ers to find the end zone for the first time all season against Seattle.
RB Carlos Hyde continued to break off impressive runs that moved the 49ers into red zone territory.But San Francisco turned to veteran Frank Gore on an early 4th and 1 situation in the red zone.
The veteran back responded by breaking off a 10-yard run for San Francisco’s first touchdown of the season against Seattle for a 7-3 lead.
The remainder of the first half remained a defensive affair, with both sides being able to stopped threatening drives from the opposing team.
The Seahawks gave themselves an opportunity to cash in on points during the final seconds of the first half, but an arid throw from Wilson with just 8 seconds left landed in the hands of Reid to close the books on the first half.
The game wouldn’t see another scoring chance until the Seahawks strung together a lengthy, five-and-a half minute drive late in the third quarter.
After being quiet throughout the first half, RB Marshawn Lynch exploited the loss of Borland, rushing for 40-yards on the ensuing drive before capping it off with a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Seahawks a 10-7 advantage.
The wheels began to fall off the bus for the 49ers following the Lynch score, as a questionable yellow flag derailed what was a crucial defensive stop for San Francisco.
LB Nick Moody laid what appeared to be a clean hit on Wilson to force an errant throw on third down, but Moody was flagged for what was called rougher the passer on the tackle.
The flag gave the Seahawks a new set of downs, which they would convert into seven more points following a 10-yard reception to WR Paul Richardson for a two-possession lead.
The 49ers offense continued to flounder with third-string back Alfonso Smith into action. Fighting injuries and the clock, the 49ers were twice forced into fourth-and-one situations.
FB Bruce Miller converted the first, but was stopped a foot short of the marker on his second try, marking a turnover on downs that effectively ended the 49ers chance at a comeback.
Without much to look forward to for the rest of the season, the attention will almost assuredly be on head coach Jim Harbaugh, who has been rumored to be on his way out.
The 49ers return to action on Saturday against the San Diego Chargers with a 5:25 p.m start at Levi’s Stadium.