Inches matter. The difference in the 49ers win over Seattle. The final climactic play found the 49ers stopping the Seahawks literally inches from the goal line on the final play.
49ers first playoff game is January 11, 2020 at Levi’s Stadium
San Francisco Chronicle December 29, 2019
SEATTLE – The only thing the 49ers lost at CenturyLink Field on Sunday night was the monkey they’d been lugging on their back for the past seven seasons.
Yes, the 49ers finally won a game at Seattle and their heart-stopping 26-21 victory came with some valuable parting gifts: They earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, which comes with a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
It didn’t come easily: The 49ers nearly squandered a 12-point lead in the final six minutes, but won their first game at CenturyLink Field since 2011 when linebacker Dre Greenlaw tackled tight end Jacob Hollister inches from the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the five-yard line with nine seconds left.
The 49ers (13-3) arrived with horrific memories of always ear-splitting CenturyLink Field, where they’d lost eight straight games dating to 2012 and been outscored 216-96 in the process. The 49ers hadn’t scored more than 20 points in Seattle since 2008.
On Sunday, however, their offense was at its best in big moments.
|Sept. 8||at Tampa Bay||W, 31-17|
|Sept. 15||at Cincinnati||W, 41-17|
|Sept. 22||Pittsburgh||W, 24-20|
|Oct. 7-x||Cleveland||W, 31-3|
|Oct. 13||at L.A. Rams||W, 20-7|
|Oct. 20||at Washington||W, 9-0|
|Oct. 27||Carolina||W, 51-13|
|Oct. 31-y||at Arizona||W, 28-25|
|Nov. 11-x||Seattle||L, 27-24 (OT)|
|Nov. 17||Arizona||W, 36-26|
|Nov. 24||Green Bay||W, 37-8|
|Dec. 1||at Baltimore||L, 20-17|
|Dec. 8||at New Orleans||W, 48-46|
|Dec. 15||Atlanta||L, 29-22|
|Dec. 21-z||L.A. Rams||W, 34-31|
|Dec. 29||at Seattle||W, 26-21|
In the second half, the Seahawks, who trailed 13-0 at halftime, scored three touchdowns to close within one score and the 49ers answered the first two scores with swift touchdown drives of their own that lasted a combined six minutes and 25 seconds.
The 49ers took a 26-14 lead – and seemingly put the game out of reach – on running back Raheem Mostert’s 13-yard run with just under six minutes left.
But the Seahawks closed to within 26-21 just over two minutes later when Wilson capped a seven-play, 60-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown to D.K. Metcalf with 3:40 remaining.
The 49ers went three-and-out on their next drive, on which center Ben Garland was flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, to set the stage for the Seattle’s final drive.
On the drive, Seahawks faced fourth-and-10 at the 12-yard line with 42 seconds left when Wilson completed an 11-yard pass to wideout John Ursua. However, the Seahawks, who were out of timeouts, took a delay-of-game penalty.
After Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock, he threw two incompletions before his fourth-down pass to Hollister came up inches short.
Jimmy Garoppolo completed 18 of 22 passes for 285 yards, and wideout Deebo Samuel had five catches for 102 yards and added a 30-yard touchdown run. Wilson completed 25 of 40 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns.
The 49ers dominated the first half, which ended with them leading 13-0 and outgaining the Seahawks, 222-79.
The 49ers took a 3-0 lead on their first drive, which was headlined by Garoppolo. He completed 4 of 4 passes for 38 yards, including an 11-yard completion to outstretched tight end George Kittle on third-and-7.
The drive was capped by a 47-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.
On their next possession, the 49ers began at their six-yard and raced down the field on an eight-play drive that included completions of 30 yards to Samuel and 15 yards to Kittle. It was capped by a 30-yard run on a reverse by Samuel, who did a 360-degree spin at the 10-yard line to avoid cornerback Tre Flowers and give the 49ers a 10-0 lead.
The 49ers scored on their first three drives – Gould added a 30-yard field goal – and Garoppolo completed his first nine passes, totaling 122 yards. Garoppolo didn’t throw his first incompletion until there was 9:28 left in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks didn’t cross midfield until there was three minutes before halftime, but their best drive of the first half ended when running back Marshawn Lynch was stopped by Nick Bosa on fourth-and-1 at the 31-yard line.
Trailing 13-0, the Seahawks’ offense awoke in the third quarter with a touchdown drive that included runs of 8 and 15 yards by Lynch. But the 11-play, 62-yard march was finished by Wilson, who stepped up in the pocket to avoid pressure and rifled a 14-yard touchdown to wideout Tyler Lockett, who was well covered by cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in the back of the end zone.
With the crowd back in the full throat, the 49ers’ response was immediate and aggressive.
On their first offensive play, Garoppolo lofted a 49-yard pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who got wide open down the right sideline by running past linebacker Mychal Kendricks. The 49ers finished the two-minute, 21-second drive four plays later on a two-yard run by Mostert. Their two-point conversion attempt failed and they had a 19-7 lead late in the third quarter.
Seattle answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive in which Wilson completed 5 of 5 passes for 44 yards. Lynch’s one-yard leap over the top trimmed the Seahawks’ deficit to 19-14 with 9:55 left.