The breaks, at long last, went the Seahawks' way. This time, finally, the other team fell victim to its own blunders. Three big plays, two...
SAN FRANCISCO — The breaks, at long last, went the Seahawks’ way. This time, finally, the other team fell victim to its own blunders.
Three big plays, two by fullback Leonard Weaver, and some productive pressure on both San Francisco quarterbacks added up to the Seahawks’ 34-13 pounding of the 49ers on a sunny Sunday at Candlestick Park.
The Seahawks (2-5), off to their worst start since 2002, were in desperate need of a win — if not to revive any hopes of another NFC West title, then to bolster their confidence. The Hawks had lost their past three. They’d been on the bad end of big plays and the wrong end on the scoreboard.
Sunday, they caught the 49ers in transition. San Francisco had earlier in the week fired coach Mike Nolan when it was mired in a four-game losing streak.
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Make that five.
Seattle’s defense set the tone early on its way to five sacks, four forced fumbles — one recovered by the Hawks — and an interception. On the second play of the game, defensive end Patrick Kerney hit 49ers quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan and forced a fumble. The Seahawks didn’t recover the loose ball, but it was a good sign of things to come.
“Our defense played a much better game against them than what they did in Seattle,” Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said, referring to Seattle’s 33-30 overtime loss to the 49ers at Qwest Field last month.
On the 49ers’ second possession, they were poised to score as O’Sullivan dropped back from the Seattle 6-yard line. That’s when linebacker Julian Peterson knifed in, knocked the ball out of O’Sullivan’s hands and led Kerney to a 50-yard return.
The Seahawks led 6-0 after those fumbles. The 49ers fans booed lustily.
Late in the first quarter, Holmgren gambled and came up big as the Seahawks converted a fourth-and-six from the San Francisco 35. Seven plays later, T.J. Duckett plunged in from the 1 to give the Hawks a 13-0 lead.
“He set the tone for us,” quarterback Seneca Wallace said of Holmgren. “He said, ‘Let’s go out there and play football and let it all hang out.’ “
It was 13-3 as the 49ers drove in the final seconds of the first half, reaching the Seattle 29 on fourth-and-four. New coach Mike Singletary gambled this time, and it proved costly.
Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson, who moved into the starting lineup for Kelly Jennings in Week 5, intercepted O’Sullivan’s pass for Arnaz Battle and took it 75 yards for a touchdown 31 seconds before halftime. With the Seahawks leading 20-3, the 49ers switched quarterbacks, and the game was well in hand.
“It was great for the team,” Wilson said. “We needed that, and it got us going. To give this team a lift and a spark is what I always try to do.”
There were more plays to be made, though. The score was 20-6 in the third quarter when Wallace, starting at quarterback again for the injured Matt Hasselbeck, hit Weaver over the middle with a short pass. Weaver turned on the jets and ran 40 yards after the 3-yard pass to pay dirt, giving the Seahawks a 27-6 lead.
Weaver wasn’t finished. With the Seahawks struggling to run the ball, he became a better receiving option. It was 27-13 midway through the fourth quarter when Wallace avoided a blitz, rolled out to his left and found Weaver all alone.
Weaver raced upfield again, picking up a nice block and scoring a 62-yard touchdown as the befuddled 49ers defenders failed to recover in time to make a tackle.
The win moved the Seahawks two games out of the lead in the division, as Arizona lost Sunday to sit at 4-3. Now the Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams, each 2-5, are tied for second place.
“The way our division is right now, it really belongs to anybody,” Kerney said.
Holmgren, battling a cold, walked off the field a winner in his hometown.
“Clearly it feels a lot better this week than it has the last couple,” he said.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org