4:05 PM ET, November 19, 2006
Monster Park, San Francisco, CA
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- For a few gut-wrenching moments, Frank Gore thought his fumble had ruined it all. The best game of his career, the 49ers' biggest upset bid in years -- it was all in the San Francisco defense's hands against the defending conference champs.Yet the defense didn't drop the ball, stuffing the Seattle Seahawks over and over again in the final minutes of a watershed win for a long-suffering franchise that finally might be on the rise again.
San Francisco running back Frank Gore rushed for 212 yards against Seattle, breaking the 49ers' record for rushing yards in a game.
|9/24/00||201||Charlie Garner||at DAL|
|12/14/98||198||Garrison Hearst||vs. DET|
|10/31/76||194||Delvin Williams||at STL|
Gore rushed for a team-record 212 yards, and San Francisco's maligned defense stopped Shaun Alexander and the Seahawks three times in the final 4½ minutes of the 49ers' third straight victory, 20-14 Sunday.Gore broke Charlie Garner's team record of 201 yards on a 17-yard romp in the final seconds, but only after he fumbled to give Seattle (6-4) its second last-minute chance. He had no reason to worry: Even Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck at full strength would have had trouble against this inspired unit. Though Gore was chastened by his sole blunder, he shared his teammates' good feelings about the brightest day in years around fog-shrouded Candlestick Park.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Niners coach Mike Nolan wears a suit made by Reebok on the sideline, nearly two seasons after first requesting permission.
|Scouts Inc.'s take ...|
The 49ers came out strong early behind the running dominance of running back Frank Gore. Gore rushed for 212 yards and has been exceptional this year in helping the 49ers' offense become a more balanced attack behind second-year quarterback Alex Smith.
The Seahawks struggled early when QB Seneca Wallace (above) threw two interceptions that resulted in early points by the 49ers, and the Seahawks could not rebound. RB Shaun Alexander got off to a slow start in his return after missing seven weeks with a fractured foot and gave little spark to the run game. The Seahawks struggled to get any offensive momentum early on and that resulted in them getting away from their game plan and trying to play catch-up, but that was too little too late. Penalties cost the Seahawks valuable field position and helped to drive the momentum in favor of the 49ers.
Alexander, the reigning league MVP who hadn't played in two months, managed just 37 yards on 17 carries in his first game back from a broken foot. Hasselbeck, who hurt his knee last month, dressed but didn't play."It took me the [entire] first half to feel I could make all the cuts," Alexander said. "For me personally, this is very positive. My foot did great." Running mostly behind linemen Larry Allen and Jonas Jennings, Gore rolled past the 1,000-yard mark in his breakout season with 130 yards in the first half. But Seattle gradually rallied after halftime, pulling close on Jackson's 41-yard catch with 6:40 left. The 49ers made their first stop in the final minutes when they tackled Alexander on fourth down at the 36 with 1:52 to play -- but Gore, who fumbled four times in four games earlier in the season, coughed it up on the next play. "I was like, whooooo," said Gore, the second-year pro from Miami whose injury history scared off other teams in last year's draft. "I knew if our defense got it back, I'd get another chance." Wallace then threw his third interception directly to cornerback Walt Harris. But San Francisco's Joe Nedney, who had never missed a field goal shorter than 30 yards before blowing two in this game, hooked a 27-yarder with 34 seconds left. But the Seahawks ran out of time, with Wallace failing to get them over midfield on four final plays. Though still above .500 and in first place, the Seahawks had to acknowledge that another division title isn't inevitable, even with their wealth of talent. "When a team is running the ball on you, it's demoralizing on the defense, but more importantly, it eats the clock up," Seattle defensive end Bryce Fisher said. "[Gore] just made us miss, and we never were able to get full-flush hits on him." At halftime, the 49ers held an official retirement ceremony for receiver Jerry Rice, who signed a one-day contract before the season with the club that was his home for 16 of his 20 record-setting NFL seasons.
Nolan wore a suit and tie made by Reebok on the sideline, nearly two seasons after he first requested permission from the NFL to dress as an authority figure. ... Bill Walsh, looking strong and healthy after recently disclosing his battle with leukemia, was among the 49ers luminaries who honored Rice. ... Seattle LB Julian Peterson made just two tackles in his return to San Francisco, where he played his first six NFL seasons.
Team Stat Comparison
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.6||6.9|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|FG||10:45||Joe Nedney 39 Yd |
Drive: 6 plays, 71 yds, 2:47
|TD||4:49||Arnaz Battle 9 Yd Pass From Alex D. Smith (Joe Nedney Kick) |
Drive: 5 plays, 40 yds, 2:42
|TD||10:46||Alex D. Smith 1 Yd Run (Joe Nedney Kick) |
Drive: 5 plays, 74 yds, 3:12
|FG||15:00||Joe Nedney 18 Yd |
Drive: 8 plays, 30 yds, 3:55
|TD||2:14||Deion Branch 38 Yd Pass From Seneca Wallace (Josh Brown Kick) |
Drive: 5 plays, 68 yds, 2:14
|TD||8:20||Darrell Jackson 41 Yd Pass From Seneca Wallace (Josh Brown Kick) |
Drive: 4 plays, 80 yds, 1:45