O’Neil: After ugly first half, Russell Wilson rallies Seahawks past 49ers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Russell Wilson was only half bad on Sunday.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, that was the first half.
And while Seattle’s quarterback was pretty lousy in the first two quarters, his second half was more than enough for what was the Seahawks’ most routine victory of the season.
Actually, Seattle’s 24-13 victory over San Francisco was kind of boring if we’re being honest about it, but that counted as an improvement over a first half that was undeniably ugly. And it was certainly better than the start of the third quarter when the Seahawks saw their lead cut to 7-6, when it seemed for a moment that Seattle was eminently capable of losing to the one-win 49ers.
That moment passed, though. Or more specifically, Wilson passed, completing 12 of his first 15 throws in the second half for 148 yards and two touchdowns. That was quite an improvement from a first half in which he was 8-for-19 passing for 80 yards and an interception.
The Seahawks are now 7-4, and they never trailed the 49ers as they beat them for the ninth straight time going back to the NFC Championship Game in January 2014. That also makes Seattle undefeated in the four games it has played at the 49ers’ shiny new stadium, which has a whole bunch of new bars but only half the fans you would expect.
The 49ers’ only touchdown of the game was scored on the final play when new 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw a 10-yard scoring pass after replacing C.J. Beathard, who was injured earlier on that possession.
It was the second time Seattle beat San Francisco this season, and this time the Seahawks didn’t need a fourth-quarter touchdown pass like they did in the Week 3 meeting in Seattle.
Russell Wilson ran for a 2-yard touchdown in the second minute of the second quarter, then came back from a largely terrible first half passing the ball to throw a third-quarter touchdown to Nick Vannett and a fourth-quarter score to Jimmy Graham, the veteran tight end’s eighth touchdown of this season.
And it’s worth noting that Graham’s touchdown was scored on second-and-goal from the 1, the exact circumstance of a certain interception from a certain Super Bowl that still causes a fair amount of angst in Seattle. Graham even ran a slant on the play, but the cornerback was so concerned about defending the fade that he gave up the inside entirely. Graham capitalized with a touchdown that made the score 21-6.
That was Seattle’s second straight touchdown drive of the game, which erased the anxiety that had started to creep into the game after back-to-back field goals from San Francisco made the game 7-6 with 9:19 left in the third quarter.
And yes, the game was as ugly as that score sounds.
The Seahawks’ offense was bad in the first half from Wilson being intercepted on his first pass attempt of the game to Blair Walsh missing a 48-yard field-goal attempt later in the opening period.
The best first-half play for Seattle’s offense was actually made by the Seahawks defense as linebacker Bobby Wagner picked off a second-quarter pass at the San Francisco 16, setting up what turned out to be the Seahawks’ only points of the first half.
The 49ers offense wasn’t just worse, it was nonexistent for most of the first half. The 49ers didn’t cross midfield for the first 25 minutes of the game. Of San Francisco’s 132 yards of total offense, 79 were gained on their final two possessions, which came in the final 6 minutes of the second quarter and resulted in a 38-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that accounted for the 49ers’ only points of the first half.
The 49ers drove 51 yards for a field goal on their opening possession of the second half, Gould hitting from 42 yards out.
Any momentum the 49ers had built up lasted only as long as Seattle’s next possession, though, as Seattle needed just 2:46 to drive 71 yards, capped off by Wilson throwing a 17-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Vannett.