Posted at 7:18 p.m., Monday, November 12, 2007
NFL: Seahawks roll over 49ers, 24-0
By GREG BEACHAM
Matt Hasselbeck passed for 278 yards and two touchdowns, Maurice Morris rushed for another score and the Seahawks defense held San Francisco to six first downs in a 24-0 victory tonight.
San Francisco's last trip to Seattle was the rain-soaked highlight of coach Mike Nolan's three seasons, with the 49ers rallying through howling winds and miserable precipitation for 21 fourth-quarter points and a stunning 24-21 victory.
An eerily similar storm hit Seattle early today, but the skies cleared by game time and the Seahawks (5-4) had almost no obstacles for a consistently outstanding passing attack that thrived while Shaun Alexander sat out with injuries.
Will Heller and D.J. Hackett caught Hasselbeck's TD passes, with Hackett getting 8 receptions for 101 yards as Seahawks affirmed their spot atop the NFC West with its second straight demolition of the club expected to challenge them this fall.
Seattle jumped to a 17-0 halftime lead before turning away three San Francisco drives that started in Seahawks territory. Alex Smith, who had his finest NFL hour in Seattle last season, passed for 114 yards for the 49ers (2-7), who skidded to their first seven-game losing streak in two years.
Nolan received condolences from Seattle's Mike Holmgren and dozens of players before the game. His father, former 49ers coach Dick Nolan, died Sunday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer.
Nolan then called a gutsy, inventive game direct snaps to receivers, an onside kick right after halftime, a phony fake punt and two attempted fourth-down conversions when the game still was winnable yet nothing worked against the Seahawks' sturdy defense.
If offensive progress is measured in first downs, the game was among the most one-sided in the history of both franchises. The Seahawks tied their team record for fewest first downs allowed, set against San Diego in 1987, while San Francisco matched its fewest first downs since 1963 for the second time this season.
Frank Gore rushed for just 72 yards, and the 49ers' league-worst offense finished with 173 total yards, failing to gain 200 for the fifth time in nine games. Seattle had 17 first downs before San Francisco got its first on the final play before halftime.
Seattle's offense racked up 380 yards and 27 first downs despite keeping it fairly simple in the absence of Alexander and receiver Deion Branch. Hasselbeck ran a patient passing offense as the Seahawks put together several clock-eating drives on the way to a 17-0 lead through three quarters.
Alexander sat out for the first time this season with an accumulation of injuries, while Branch missed his fourth straight game.
Holmgren vowed to open up the passing game in Alexander's absence, and the veteran coach wasn't using subterfuge for a change. Seattle passed on 11 of 13 plays on the opening drive, with Hasselbeck patiently picking at the Niners' defense before hitting Heller with a 1-yard TD toss.
Patrick Kerney stripped the ball from Smith on the 49ers' first possession, and it was recovered by Rocky Bernard the 308-pound tackle who separated Smith's throwing shoulder on a sack in the clubs' first meeting in September. Josh Brown's field goal put Seattle up 10-0 less than 11 minutes in.
Hackett's 46-yard catch against hobbling 49ers cornerback Walt Harris set up Morris' 6-yard TD run late in the second quarter. Hackett also caught a 10-yard TD pass on the first play of the fourth.
After losing twice to the 49ers last season, Seattle emphatically swept the division series by cumulative 47-3 score.