SEATTLE — Richard Sherman celebrated by dancing with cheerleaders, Marshawn Lynch cut, plowed and walked his way to three touchdowns and Pete Carroll got one rousing birthday gift.
The awaited NFC West showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers was completely one-sided.
Lynch scored on touchdown runs of 14 and two yards, and added a seven-yard TD reception in the second half, Seattle flustered Colin Kaepernick into his worst passing game as a starter and the Seahawks dominated in a 29-3 win Sunday night.
The game was delayed 60 minutes late in the first quarter when thunderstorms blew through the area. The highly-anticipated matchup was sloppy as opposed to sensational, but Lynch more than did his part. Lynch finished with 135 total yards, including 98 yards rushing, to make up quarterback Russell Wilson hitting on just two of his first 10 throws and Seattle’s receivers struggling to get open. His TD run on the first drive of the second half gave Seattle a 12-0 lead and his TD catch pushed the advantage to 19-3 early in the fourth quarter.
This won’t be a game noted for the efficiency or execution by either side. There were careless turnovers and untimely, unneeded penalties. But that was expected between these nasty rivals and the favorites not just in their division but as potential NFC representatives in the Super Bowl.
And it was the Seahawks getting an early, important advantage over the 49ers. Kaepernick failed to get anything going in the pass game, unable to break down Seattle’s stellar secondary. He was intercepted in the end zone in the first quarter when Earl Thomas hauled in a deflected pass intended for Vernon Davis, what proved to be the only time the 49ers threatened to score a touchdown. Kam Chancellor intercepted Kaepernick midway through the fourth quarter, returning the pick to the San Francisco 2 and leading to Lynch’s third TD.
Then there was Sherman, Seattle’s ultra-confident All-Pro, who intercepted Kaepernick’s deep sideline pass for Davis with about 13 minutes remaining. He celebrated his first interception of the season by dancing with the Seahawks cheer squad after the play. Steven Hauschka kicked a 37-yard field goal and the Seahawks’ lead was 22-3 with 11:31 left.
And just because Carroll can’t stop competing, he challenged and won the Seahawks another turnover following a kickoff fumble with 4:15 left and the Seahawks leading by 26.
Wilson finished 8 of 19 passing for 142 yards, one of the worst games in his young career. Kaepernick was 13 of 28 for 127 yards passing and rushed for another 87 yards. Frank Gore was held to just 16 yards rushing on nine carries, and Anquan Boldin, who tortured Green Bay last week for 13 catches and 208 yards receiving, was targeted just once in the first three quarters. His only catch came with 9:40 remaining.
The 49ers finished with five turnovers and no TDs in a game for the third time since start of 1979 season.
Leading 5-0 at halftime after a wacky first half of delays and points coming via safety and a field goal, Seattle started the second half going to Lynch. He carried on the first four plays of the half, and when Seattle faced third-and-12, Wilson scrambled and bought time for Doug Baldwin to get open downfield for a 51-yard reception to the 49ers 20. After a penalty backed up the Seahawks to the 14, Lynch took an inside handoff and darted nearly untouched for his first touchdown of the season.
Seattle extended the lead later in the half thanks to a careless personal foul penalty from Aldon Smith, slapping the helmet of Seattle’s Breno Giacomini behind the play after Zach Miller and the Seahawks were stopped short on third-and-28. Given another chance, Wilson stayed in the pocket against blitzing safety Craig Dahl on third-and-4 to find Lynch wide open in the left flat. Lynch took a few steps toward the end zone, stopped and waited, and finally crossed the goal line, pushing the lead to 22-3.
Seattle played the final three quarters without starting left tackle Russell Okung, while San Francisco lost nose tackle Ian Williams and safety Eric Reid to injuries.