The 49ers’ playoff hopes were extinguished by their bitter rivals.
Fending off a spirited first-half challenge, the Seahawks pushed to a 17-7 victory over the visiting Niners on Sunday. The win officially knocks San Francisco out of playoff contention for the first time in Jim Harbaugh’s four seasons as coach. And with speculation about Harbaugh’s future flowing unchecked, it’s reasonable to wonder if his San Francisco tenure will be over in two games.
Early on, the 49ers (7-7) played skillfully and boldly, taking a 7-3 halftime lead on Frank Gore’s 10-yard TD run. However, the offense sputtered in the final two quarters, gaining just 67 yards without Gore (concussion) throughout and tailback Carlos Hyde (undisclosed injury) out of the lineup.
The Seahawks would capitalize, taking the lead for good with 2:19 left in the third quarter on Marshawn Lynch’s four-yard TD run.
Then, after a Niners three-and-out, the Seahawks would effectively put the game away, with quarterback Russell Wilson hitting rookie receiver Paul Richardson for a 10-yard score with 13:20 left. The drive was kept alive by a seemingly dubious roughing the passer penalty on San Francisco’s Nick Moody, who hit Wilson in the chest with his helmet.
The 49ers’ offense then cobbled together one more serious drive, but their 14-play, 55-yard march would end with the Seahawks stuffing fullback Bruce Miller on 4th-and-1 at the Seattle 38 with 5:30 left. The Niners got the ball back once more, but they could not move the chains on four downs, and Seattle ran out the final two-and-a-half minutes.
The Seahawks play at Arizona next Sunday in a game that could decide the NFC West. The 49ers, meanwhile, host fading San Diego on Saturday night in what could be Harbaugh’s penultimate home game at Levi’s Stadium.