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Game at a glance: 49ers 19, Seahawks 17
A recap of the Seahawks’ 19-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME: GOLDEN TATE
Yes, the Seahawks lost the game, but Tate did everything he could to get the Seahawks their eighth consecutive victory and the NFC West title that would have come with it.
“Golden’s punt return was just spectacular,” quarterback Russell Wilson said of Tate taking the punt to the 4ers’ 27-yard line. “He’s really explosive. He made a lot of things happen. That was a huge return by him, and we’re going to need to continue to have that.”
Tate also caught a team-high six passes for 65 yards. He had a 16-yarder on the first play of the game. He had a 24-yarder on third-and-6 during the 80-yard drive to the Seahawks’ first touchdown – an 11-yard run by Marshawn Lynch. He had a 4-yarder on third-and-2 on the 72-yard drive to the second TD – a 39-yard pass play from Wilson to rookie tight end Luke Willson.
UNSUNG HERO: BYRON MAXWELL
In his second NFL start, the third-year cornerback made his first NFL interception. But the significance of the pick went beyond the milestone status to when and where Maxwell got his hands on Colin Kaepernick’s pass.
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“Enjoy it? Not the word I would use. It's like going to the dentist chair for 3 1/2 hours and getting a root canal. These games are only for the tough.”
– 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh
The 49ers had a first down on the Seahawks’ 20-yard line late in the third quarter. But when Kaepernick went to Michael Crabtree near the goal line, Maxwell was on the coverage and able to make the interception. So instead of the 49ers increasing their lead to 23-14, the Seahawks got the ball.
“They hit me with a back-shoulder (completion) earlier in the game, so I was ready for it and knew I had to stand up,” said Maxwell, who is starting because Brandon Browner is out with a groin injury and backup Walter Thurmond is two games into his league-imposed four-game suspension.
Maxwell also broke up two other passes and had five solo stops.
PLAYS OF THE GAME
Offense: Frank Gore’s 51-yard run in the fourth quarter to setup Phil Dawson’s game-winning 22-yard field goal with 26 seconds to play. On his first 11 carries, Gore had 54 yards. He almost matched that on what Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant called the biggest play of the game, as Gore started to his left, cutback to his right and ran to the Seahawks’ 18-yard line.
Defense: Maxwell’s interception, for the reasons stated above.
Special teams: Dawson’s game-winning field goal, of course. It was his fourth of the game and 20th in a row, to set a 49ers’ record. The 49ers also blocked a Jon Ryan punt, but that didn’t decide the game.
INJURY REPORT: K.J. WRIGHT BREAKS BONE IN HIS FOOT
Linebacker K.J. Wright broke a bone in his foot during the second quarter and could miss six weeks, coach Pete Carroll said. Wright was replaced by Malcolm Smith, who finished with four tackles, including one for a loss.
The Seahawks also could be without backup safety and special teams standout Jeron Johnson for a while. He pulled a hamstring – the other hamstring from the one that forced him to miss three games earlier this season.
Center Max Unger went out in the fourth quarter with what Carroll called a strained pectoral. He was replaced by Lemuel Jeanpierre.
The loss was the Seahawks’ second of the season and first since Oct. 6. It snapped the Seahawks’ seven-game winning streak and cut their lead in the NFC West to two games over the 49ers with three games to play.
Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had a team-high nine tackles and regained the team lead for the season, passing All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas – who spent much of the game in a deep, single-safety role and finished with four tackles.
Lynch’s TD was his 12th of the season (10 rushing, two receiving), tying his total from last season and one shy of his career-best total from 2011.
The Seahawks were penalized nine times for 85 yards, the 49ers seven times for 70 yards.
The Seahawks are now 5-2 on the road and have one more chance to set a franchise record with a sixth road win – next Sunday against the 5-8 New York Giants in the Meadowlands. The Giants are 3-3 at home this season.