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49ers steamroll the Seahawks 31-13; prove why they’re the team to beat in the NFC

The stars came to play on both sides of the ball

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Seahawks deferring turned out to be the worst-case scenario for Seattle. No team had scored on their opening drive in the NFL than the 49ers, and Kyle Shanahan drew up another masterful opener.

Christian McCaffrey ran for 13 yards on the first play. That came after a 29-yard kick return from Ray-Ray McCloud. Charlie Woerner had a catch for nine yards. McCaffrey had another explosive play, this time for 27 yards. Then, Deebo Samuel, after picking up a first down on the previous second down, he carried the ball in for a touchdown to make it 7-0 early.

The Seahawks scored three points on their next drive, despite gaining one yard on three plays. A 66-yard kick return from Dee Eskridge put Seattle in Niners territory, but the Seahawks couldn’t accomplish anything.

The 49ers moved the ball to Seattle’s 30 on the following drive, but an offensive holding call on Jauan Jennings and a loss of six on third down took the offense out of field goal range.

Geno Smith was nearly sacked for a safety by Tashaun Gipson after stumbling over the feet of his running back. That would give San Francisco another possession with prime field position.

On third down, it appeared as though the Niners would stall inside of the red zone. But an illegal use of hands by the Seahawks defense would give Brock Purdy and company a new set of downs. Christian McCaffrey scored and that put the 49ers up 14-3.

The Seahawks third possession went the same as their first two. Well, worse, actually. Ambry Thomas made a remarkable interception after he jumped a Tyler Lockett route. Unfortunately, the 49ers couldn’t capitalize on the short field.

The defense didn’t let up, though. It appeared as if DK Metcalf caught a long pass, but his second foot landed out of bounds. San Francisco forced a fourth consecutive punt.

And the offense would have another short field to work with. The question was whether they’d make the most of it. George Kittle picked up a critical first down. Brandon Aiyuk seemed to catch a would-be touchdown, but rookie Devon Witherspoon poked his hand in at the last second to break the pass up.

Then, Deebo Samuel came up with a reception on third down to keep the drive alive. McCaffrey spun his way to a second score, and the 49ers were rolling, up 21-3.

Seattle couldn’t muster much on their next drive. They lost eight yards after Javon Hargrave picked up a sack. The Niners went three-and-out, though, they were unable to score before the end of the half.

A muffed punt by the Seahawks gifted the 49ers another possession. With 1:47 left to play, Shanahan elected to run the ball on the first two downs and play for a field goal. I think everyone would’ve liked to see more aggression from Shanahan in that spot to ice the game away. Jake Moody’s field goal was good and the Niners took a 24-3 with about 34 seconds left in the half.

But Seattle didn’t run the clock out. Instead, they pushed the ball down the field. After gains of 9 on three consecutive plays, Metcalf picked up 14 to put the ball into field goal range. Seattle missed a long field goal attempt.

At the half, Purdy was 15-for-20. Geno Smith was 6-for-11. Purdy had thrown for 134 yards compared to Smith’s 55. The 49ers had out gained the Seahawks 225 to 56.

Seattle showed a little life after a 21-yard pass to start the third quarter, but a Nick Bosa sack on the third drive. Shanahan remained elected to pass backed up in his own end zone. Purdy missed Samuel on first down, despite Deebo being wide open.

Brock’s next pass was even more off-target and high. This time, the defense capitalized and had an interception returned for a touchdown to make it 24-10.

Aaron Banks had a false start on first down to begin the ensuing drive. The offense had a chance on third down, but Purdy couldn’t find a receiver open on the play and the Niners were forced to punt.

Seattle would answer with a 14-play drive, which was easily their best of the evening. It took a 34-yard one-handed snag from Jaxon Smith Njigba to keep the drive alive on 3rd & 9. But that would be the final third down the Seahawks would see until play 13 of the drive.

Ambry Thomas broke up a pass in the end zone. On second and goal. And Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave split a sack on third and goal to hold Seattle to three points to make the score 24-13.

San Francisco’s offense would need to get going. An end around to Deebo Samuel helped. McCaffrey following that up with runs of seven and nine didn’t hurt, either. It would come down to a 4th & 3 from the 37-yard line. A Jon Feliciano false start took the decision to go for it out of Shanahan’s hands.

But the Niners defense would bow up once more as Bosa and Armstead sacked Smith on third down to end yet another drive. They were lights out all night and the stars made plays on the most important downs.

Samuel and McCaffrey would kick-start another Niners drive into Seattle territory. On 2nd & 7, Purdy threw a post that was on the money to Brandon Aiyuk — who had only one reception on the evening — and his 28-yard reception put the game away and made it 31-13.

Kevin Givens split a sack with Bosa on the next drive. It was a perfect opportunity for the pass rush to tee off. That was the sixth sack of the night, which was a season-high for the defense.

Seattle almost made it into the 49ers red zone. But on 4th & 1, Bosa and Fred Warner tackled Zach Charbonnet in the backfield for a turnover on downs.

Elijah Mitchell had three carries which led to first downs. Then, Ray-Ray McCloud had a 23-yard run to end it. This was a dominating performance from wire-to-wire on the road against a divisional foe.

And the 49ers reward will be a mini bye week.