Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner lead Seahawks in 43-16 thumping of 49ers

Dec 2, 2018, 2:02 PM | Updated: 5:21 pm
Bobby Wagner had a tone-setting sack in the first quarter of the Seahawks' 43-16 win. (AP)...
Bobby Wagner had a tone-setting sack in the first quarter of the Seahawks' 43-16 win. (AP)

Richard Sherman’s first game against the Seahawks as an opposing player wasn’t really about Richard Sherman.

The story instead in Seattle’s 43-16 win was an efficient Seahawks offense that didn’t test Sherman much – because it didn’t need to. The rest of the San Francisco defense was plenty easy to deal with.

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Russell Wilson tossed four touchdown passes, including a 52-yard bomb to Tyler Lockett, and the Seahawks jumped out to a commanding lead in the first half that the 49ers never really contested.

The defense had a strong showing for the Seahawks, too – especially linebacker Bobby Wagner, who had a game-high 12 tackles, two tackles for loss, a tone-setting sack in the first quarter, and finally needed to catch his breath after returning an interception 98 yards for a touchdown in the fourth.

Seattle improves to 7-5 as it further builds its case to make the playoffs, while San Francisco drops to 2-10.

Here’s a quarter-by-quarter look at the Seahawks’ victory at CenturyLink Field.

First quarter

Seahawks 6, 49ers 0

The Seahawks jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but their offense needed some time to get going as its first series ended in a three-and-out. When Seattle started rolling, however, it was hard for the 49ers to stop.

The jump-start came when Russell Wilson found wide receiver Jaron Brown wide open near midfield on second-and-6, and after a good run after the catch Brown had a 45-yard gain to put the Seahawks at San Francisco’s 25. A 15-yard Rashaad Penny run on a toss left, away from where the Seahawks had overloaded the offensive line by sending left guard J.R. Sweezy in motion to the right, got Seattle in the red zone, and Wilson eventually found Brown again for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Sebastian Janikowski missed the point after, however, leaving the Seahawks’ lead at just 6-0.

The Seahawks’ pass rush found success early and often pressuring rookie 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens. Bobby Wagner blitzed up the middle to take Mullens down for a sack on third-and-5 to halt San Francisco’s first drive after six plays. On the next 49ers drive, Jarran Reed got to Mullens to force an incompletion on third down and a second 49ers punt. And on the Niners’ final drive of the quarter, they once again had to punt, this time after a three-and-out.

Note: Of course the Seahawks had an elaborate touchdown celebration ready for their first game against Sherman’s 49ers. The group of wide receivers re-enacted ‘The Tip’ made by Sherman and caught by fellow Seahawk-turned-49er Malcom Smith to lock up Seattle’s NFC Championship win on its way to a Super Bowl championship – and they did it in the same corner of the same end zone, no less.

SEA – Jaron Brown 4 pass from Russell Wilson (kick failed), 1:25

Second quarter

Seahawks 20, 49ers 3

The 49ers took a chance on a fourth down and converted, yet it somehow turned out to be the wrong call for San Francisco.

Allow me to explain. Already down 13-0, the 49ers took a big risk and went for it on fourth-and-1 at Seattle’s 21 instead of kicking a field goal. And while they ended up getting the first down, by extending the drive the Seahawks were allowed an opportunity to produce a takeaway. That’s exactly what Bobby Wagner did, wrestling the ball away from running back Jeff Wilson Jr. on the very next play. The fumble ruling on the field was reviewed by replay, and because there wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn it, Seattle’s defense ended the drive with a shutout still intact.

As for how the Seahawks got their lead to 13-0, it was just another case of a Russell Wilson to Tyler Lockett long-distance connection.

That 52-yard reception was Lockett’s ninth touchdown catch of the season and third of 50 yards or more.

Wilson, meanwhile, finished the half 4-of-6 passing for 102 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 149.3 rating. You read that right – four completions, three touchdowns.

The Seahawks weren’t done scoring – or creating takeaways, for that matter – after Lockett’s TD. A strong kick by punter Michael Dickson played a role in a muffed punt by the 49ers, and Seahawks special teams extraordinaire Neiko Thorpe was there to recover the fumble. That set up a 1-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Doug Baldwin that gave Seattle a comfortable 20-0 advantage.

The 49ers were able to get into field-goal range before halftime, though, and kicker Robbie Gould hit from 45 yards to get San Francisco on the board.

Note: Wilson took a hard shot late in the quarter as he went down to a slide on a scramble. San Francisco linebacker Malcolm Smith, a former teammate of Wilson’s with the Seahawks, caught Wilson during his slide, delivering a nasty-looking blow that resulted in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

SEA – Tyler Lockett 52 pass from Wilson (Sebastian Janikowski kick), 13:41
SEA – Doug Baldwin 1 pass from Wilson (Janikowski kick), 1:17
SF – Robbie Gould 45 FG, :00

Third quarter

Seahawks 27, 49ers 10

The 49ers scored a field goal to get on the board right as the first half ended. The Seahawks apparently could not wait to answer.

On the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Tyler Lockett reminded everyone that he’s quite a good return man, turning on the jets for an 84-yard return to the 49ers’ 20. Then Russell Wilson handed off to Rashaad Penny, and just like that he was in the end zone on a 20-yard run that extended the Seahawks’ lead to 27-3.

The 49ers showed life on offense, however, and cut back into Seattle’s advantage with a seven-play, 58-yard drive that was capped off by former UW Huskies standout Dante Pettis’ 17-yard touchdown catch from Nick Mullens.

On the next Seahawks series, they took a chance on going at Richard Sherman. Wilson connected on a short pass to Baldwin, he was being covered by Sherman. After making the catch, Baldwin spun back upfield and broke a Sherman tackle to turn the play into a 21-yard gain.

Seattle didn’t score on that particular drive, but then again neither did San Francisco for the rest of the quarter. Especially not after the Seahawks forced the 49ers’ fifth punt of the game when blitzing cornerback Justin Coleman and defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson split a sack of Mullens on third down with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

After that punt, a particularly egregious San Francisco pass interference penalty on a deep attempt by Wilson at Lockett quickly put Seattle in 49er territory, but that was the least of the 49ers’ worries. Head coach Kyle Shanahan was disqualified from the game for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the Seahawks were in the red zone and almost assuredly about to add to their lead as the quarter ended.

SEA – Rashaad Penny 20 run (Janikowski kick), 14:44
SF – Dante Pettis 17 pass from Nick Mullens (Gould kick), 11:24

Fourth quarter

Seahawks 43, 49ers 16

The Seahawks cashed in on the gift given to them by San Francisco’s penalties late in the third quarter, Wilson connecting with Brown for an 18-yard touchdown with 14:17 to go for the pair’s second score of the day.

Pettis wouldn’t let the 49ers go away quietly, however, hauling in a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mullens on San Francisco’s first play from scrimmage of the final quarter.

That wasn’t the only bit of bad news for the Seahawks. Right guard D.J. Fluker, a free agent addition from the offseason who has been a big part of Seattle’s reborn running game, went to the locker room with a towel over his head due to a hamstring injury. If that wasn’t enough, the running back depth took a hit as both Penny and Chris Carson had to have some possible injuries checked out.

Seattle knocked on the door of a sixth touchdown on the day, but Wilson’s play-action rollout on first-and-goal from the 1 turned into a disastrous 16-yard loss on a Ronald Blair III sack. That forced the Seahawks to eventually settle for a 40-yard Janikowski field goal.

Wagner added an exclamation point to the Seattle’s win with a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown that will not soon be forgotten by Seahawks fans.

The Niner had one last shot at scoring, but Jarran Reed sacked Mullens on fourth-and-goal inside the final minute to put the game to bed.

SEA – Brown 18 pass from Wilson (Janikowki kick), 14:17
SF – Pettis 75 pass from Mullens (run failed), 14:06
SEA – Janikowski 40 FG, 7:53
SEA – Bobby Wagner 98 interception return (kick blocked), 4:04

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Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner lead Seahawks in 43-16 thumping of 49ers