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O’Neil: Seahawks did enough to beat themselves, but officials lent a hand

The Seahawks allowed this Garrett Celek TD but also set a team record for penalty yardage. (AP)

The Seahawks did more than enough to beat themselves at San Francisco on Sunday.

They missed a point-after try, allowed a touchdown on a kickoff return, and for the second time in three games were given fits by some guy named Nick Mullens.

Seahawks lose to 49ers | Takeaways | 710 reaction | Photos

But ultimately the Seahawks needed a little help to beat themselves in a 26-23 overtime defeat, and referee Pete Morelli’s officiating crew was more than happy to oblige.

A holding penalty nullified a 19-yard run that would have put Seattle in position to win the game in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Another holding penalty nullified a 32-yard completion on third-and-5 during Seattle’s opening possession of overtime. And then a defensive pass interference penalty against the Seahawks’ Shaquill Griffin put the 49ers over the hump.

Officially, the 49ers won on Robbie Gould’s 36-yard field goal with 1:05 left in overtime. Yes, that’s an official result. That’s how much the refs had to do with this outcome.

Seattle lost 148 yards due to penalty, most of any game in franchise history. The previous high was 145 yards worth of penalties in a game against Denver back in 1979. Now, the officiating probably shouldn’t have mattered. After all, the 49ers entered the game 3-10 and were on their third starting quarterback of the season. Seattle beat San Francisco 43-16 just two weeks ago. The Seahawks jumped out to a 20-0 lead in that game, and it looked like Seattle was going to be equally definitive this time around as Doug Baldwin caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson on Seattle’s first possession.

But then Sebastian Janikowski hooked the point-after try. And then Richie James Jr. returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and the Seahawks never led again.

They did tie it in the fourth quarter when Chris Carson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second minute of the fourth quarter that was as tough and as determined as any run you’ll ever see. It required second effort, an extraordinary sense of balance and every inch of his frame to reach into the end zone before his knee touched down.

It seemed like once again the Seahawks were going to spend three quarters trying to see just how many different ways they could mess up before pulling it out in the fourth quarter.

Only this time, the Seahawks encountered a different obstacle in the end. One that wore stripes and threw yellow flags. Lots of yellow flags.

A holding penalty against Ethan Pocic in the final minute of the fourth quarter nullified a 19-yard run by Mike Davis that would have given the Seahawks the ball at the San Francisco 38 with the score tied 23-23, one timeout remaining and 53 seconds on the clock. Instead, the Seahawks faced first-and-20 at their own 33. Three plays later, Seattle punted, sending it to overtime.

Another holding penalty nullified a third-down conversion on Seattle’s opening possession of overtime, too. On third-and-5, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson completed a 32-yard pass to J.D. McKissic, who was matched up against a linebacker. That play was nullified by another holding penalty on Pocic.

Seattle punted to San Francisco, and after the 49ers gained a first down, Seattle got a sack that left San Francisco facing second-and-15 from the San Francisco 44. Griffin was called for defensive pass interference against Dante Pettis, resulting in a first down at the Seattle 41.

Three runs produced 23 yards and the 49ers kicked a game-winner, while the Seahawks were left kicking themselves.