The 49ers, ahead 7-3 at halftime, aren’t waving any white flags in a stadium in which they haven’t won since 2011.
The team opened the game in Seattle with energy and fight, both of which were missing in last week’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. Along with linebacker Chris Borland, Ahmad Brooks – back after last week’s banishment – has led the defense, including with a sack of Russell Wilson.
The offense, meanwhile, has been more dedicated to the run. The game has included a 10-yard touchdown by Frank Gore and solid pickups by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did little running in the teams’ Thanksgiving matchup, a 19-3 win for the Seahawks, but who has been sent on several designed runs so far.
Gore, however, jogged off the field with a head injury before halftime and did not return. The remaining running backs on the roster are Carlos Hyde and Alfonso Smith. Receiver Bruce Ellington also has lined up at running back this year.
Facing possible elimination from the playoffs, the 49ers were fired up to start the contest – perhaps too fired up.
The Seahawks’ second drive was boosted by two personal foul penalties by an unlikely perpetrator, Eric Reid, who gave the 49ers’ pre-game speech. The second-year safety wasn’t penalized at all last season, but he hit one Seahawks receiver out of bounds and was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver later in the drive.
The two fouls accounted for 30 of the Seahawks’ 62-yard drive, which ended in a field goal. Reid later made up for those fouls with an interception at the shadow of his end zone on the last play before halftime. Borland was injured on Reid’s long return, and his availability for the second half is unknown at this point.
Following the field goal, the 49ers went on an 11-play drive that seemed to stall when Gore was held for no gain on third-and-one from the Seattle 10-yard line. With little to lose, the 49ers went for it on fourth down, and Gore picked up blocks from tight ends Vernon Davis and Asante Cleveland as well as right guard Alex Boone to not only get the first down but barrel into the end zone for a 7-3 lead.
Cleveland was in the game for Garrett Celek, who left with an ankle injury.
Kaepernick, who is coming off his two worst starts of the season, has been far more effective.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.