O’Neil: Seahawks handled 2-win 49ers exactly like a playoff team should
So much for the rivalry.
You can forget about the grudge match, too, because Richard Sherman’s return to Seattle was rendered a footnote in what was the single-most straightforward game the Seahawks have played this season.
That’s not a criticism nor a complaint. It’s a compliment as the Seahawks handled the 49ers exactly the way you’d expect a team headed to the playoffs would handle a two-win opponent, which is to say that Seattle beat San Francisco with a thoroughness generally reserved for bass drums and dead horses.
Seattle 43, San Francisco 16, and this was a game that was every bit as lopsided as the score indicated.
The Seahawks led 20-0 before the 49ers scored their first points, which came on a field goal at the end of the first half, and while San Francisco actually out-gained Seattle, that was more than trumped by the fact that Seattle forced three takeaways.
Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes for Seattle, a fact made even more remarkable in that he only attempted 17 passes all game. The only interception of the day was one that linebacker Bobby Wagner returned 98 yards for a touchdown, and Rashaad Penny scored on a 20-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
It was Seattle’s ninth consecutive regular-season victory over the 49ers, 10th in a row if you include the NFC Championship game in January 2014. Seattle improved to 7-5 and passed the Vikings (6-5-1) in the NFC wild-card standings after Minnesota was beaten in New England on Sunday.
And after a week’s worth of build-up to Sherman’s return to Seattle, he actually didn’t have much at all to do with the outcome. The only real noticeable booing came when the 49ers took the field, and it’s pretty much standard procedure at every NFL stadium to boo the opposing team. There were cheers as Sherman walked to midfield for the pre-game coin toss.
The Seahawks didn’t throw a pass to the guy Sherman was covering until the fifth minute of the third quarter when Wilson found Doug Baldwin underneath, and he ran out of Sherman’s attempt at a tackle for a 21-yard gain.
The Seahawks were well on their way to a win by that point. One that was decidedly drama-free in spite of Sherman’s return.