The Pete Carroll era started flat with a Matt Hasselbeck interception, but pressure from the Seattle defense kept San Francisco at bay long enough for the Seahawks to turn a 6-0 deficit into a 31-6 triumph Sunday at Qwest Field.
After the interception at the Seattle 36 yard line – which came on the Seahawks’ first offensive play of the season – San Francisco worked itself within 10 yards of the goal line, but two incompletions and a two-yard rush from running back Frank Gore left the 49ers’ drive stalled. A Joe Nedney 23-yard field goal gave the visitors an early 3-0 lead.
San Francisco (0-1) wouldn’t be as fortunate on its next drive. After rookie safety Earl Thomas stopped Gore from picking up yardage on a handoff along the left side of the line, the 49ers faced fourth-and-one from Seattle’s six yard line with 13:41 to go in the second quarter. Head coach Mike Singletary elected to go for it, but quarterback Alex Smith and the 49ers were left on the doorstep. An incomplete pass from Smith intended for fullback Moran Norris turned the ball over on downs.
It would take the Seahawks’ defense one more stand – another 23-yard field goal by Nedney, this time on fourth-and-six – to give its offensive counterpart enough time to click. Following a 35-yard pass and catch from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to wide receiver Mike Williams along the right sideline, Seattle’s signal caller scampered into the end zone for a one-yard score with less than three minutes to go in the first half. An Olindo Mare extra point gave the Seahawks (1-0) a lead they wouldn’t lose.
Seattle’s next two scores also came courtesy of its defense.
A 20-yard return after a Jordan Babineaux interception at San Francisco’s 33 on the 49ers’ next possession put the football in Hasselbeck’s hands once again. He’d need just one play, a 13-yard strike to second-year wideout Deon Butler to get his team back into the end zone.
Less than 90 seconds into the second half, San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith looked for Michael Crabtree but found Seattle’s Marcus Trufant. Taking in the pass at the 49ers’ 32, the cornerback bolted down the right sideline for the touchdown.
Smith’s second interception of the day was part of a 0-7 start in the second half through the air. He’d finish the day completing 26 of 45 passes for 225 yards.
The 49ers’ ground game didn’t do the visiting team any favors either. After the last two games between the NFC West foes, Frank Gore averaged 9.28 yards per rush with touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards. Today, he averaged less than 2.3 yards on 17 attempts.
Looking ahead, Seattle heads to Denver next week for a matchup between former AFC West rivals.
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