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Gore gashes Seahawks as 49ers bounce back

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Four days after getting overpowered by the New York Giants, the San Francisco 49ers returned to their old-school ways Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks.

The 49ers didn't stop running until they owned sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

Frank Gore rushed for 131 yards on 16 carries, leading the 49ers to a 13-6 victory over the Seahawks at Candlestick Park.

San Francisco improved to 5-2, while Seattle fell to 4-3 and into third place in the division behind 4-2 Arizona.

"I just got into a rhythm," Gore said. "I feel that once I get into a rhythm, I can't be stopped. When everyone's on the same page, we can do great things in the running game."

Gore, who rushed for a career-high 212 yards against Seattle in 2006, also caught five passes for 51 yards Thursday. He finished with 182 total yards despite sitting out the 49ers' final series as a precaution because of soreness from a hard hit he took earlier in the game.

Gore told CSNBayArea.com that he has bruised ribs but that X-rays were negative.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries, cracking the 100-yard barrier for the second consecutive time against the 49ers' stingy run defense.

"We found ourselves in the midst of a real slugfest," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "I don't think that was a surprise.

"Both teams played like crazy and beat the heck out of each other. That's what the division has become."

The 49ers didn't reach the end zone Sunday in their disheartening, 26-3 loss to the Giants in the rematch of last year's NFC title game. Soon after that defeat, the 49ers' offensive linemen started lobbying the coaches to get back to playing power football against Seattle, which possessed the NFL's second-ranked rushing defense.

"We get up for that challenge as an offensive line," said 49ers tackle Joe Staley, who started four days after suffering a concussion against the Giants.

The Seahawks were flying high after earning a 24-23 win over New England last weekend.

Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw a game-winning 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice against the Patriots. This time, he couldn't come up with any late-game magic. The 49ers forced a punt with just over two minutes left. The Seahawks got the ball back, but their final drive lost yards.

Carroll, though, pointed to a trio of crucial drops earlier in the game, one each by Golden Tate, Robert Turbin and Evan Moore.

"It was crucial because the game was so close," Carroll said. "Those could have made the difference."

After a rough first half, quarterback Alex Smith generated enough passing offense for the 49ers to survive. For the game, he completed 14 of 23 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted once.

"I was kind of expecting a physical game," Smith said. "It wasn't going to be pretty. It wasn't going to be a stats game."

The 49ers took a 10-6 lead -- their first lead of the night -- on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Smith to tight end Delanie Walker with 4:29 left in the third quarter. That snapped San Francisco's six-quarter touchdown drought.

San Francisco drove 86 yards in 10 plays, with Smith picking the Seahawks defense apart with short passes, most of them over the middle to wide-open receivers who discovered a soft spot in Seattle's coverage. Smith went 5-for-5 for 60 yards on the touchdown drive.

"We let a tough one get away from us," Seahawks defensive tackle Brandon Mebane said. "We just have to keep moving forward. We still have a long season."

The 49ers quickly got the ball back.

Wilson, trying to hit Braylon Edwards deep down the left sideline, threw into triple coverage and was intercepted by 49ers safety Dashon Goldson.

The 49ers took over on their own 27 and drove deep into Seahawks territory. On third-and-goal from the Seattle 7, Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner intercepted Smith's pass intended for Randy Moss in the end zone.

After a punt, the 49ers drove 39 yards in seven plays, and David Akers drilled a 28-yard field goal to give San Francisco a 13-6 lead with 5:24 left to play.

The Seahawks built a 6-3 halftime lead on a pair of Steven Hauschka field goals, but it was Lynch who did most of the heavy lifting. He carried nine times for 55 yards in the half, averaging 6.1 yards a pop.

Lynch picked up where he left off at Seattle last Dec. 24, when he rushed for 107 yards in a 19-17 loss to the 49ers, snapping San Francisco's streak of 36 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. He also ran for a touchdown in that game -- the first rushing TD the 49ers allowed last season.

The Seahawks struck first Thursday, taking a 3-0 lead on Hauschka's 52-yard field goal with 5:29 left in the first quarter. Starting from their 4-yard line, the Seahawks marched 62 yards in 10 plays as Wilson completed three of five passes for 32 yards. The 49ers did their part with two penalties, including a 15-yarder on Goldson for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The 49ers answered on their next drive, marching 60 yards in 11 plays for Akers' 38-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in the first quarter. Gore caught a 12-yard screen pass and raced up the middle through a huge hole for 18 yards to midfield on the drive. Smith's 16-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who broke cornerback Richard Sherman's tackle, moved the 49ers to the 19.

The game ended with an unusual sequence.

With 43 seconds left, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh declined a chop-block penalty in the end zone that would have nullified a Wilson completion to Ben Obomanu on fourth-and-17 and given the 49ers a safety and a 15-6 lead. He declined only after having the officials measure and rule that the Seahawks were inches short of the first down. Smith then kneeled down twice, and Seattle never touched the ball again.

The chop block on the play was illegal because it involved a blocker hitting a defender who was already engaged with another Seattle player.

The 49ers began the week as a 7 1/2-point favorite, but the line had shifted to seven before kickoff. Harbaugh's decision left the final margin at seven instead of nine, affecting the outcome of a lot of wagers.

NOTES: San Francisco wide receiver Mario Manningham, who has 24 catches for 258 yards and one TD this season, was inactive due to a shoulder injury. He started four of the first six games. ... 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs, a former New York Giant, was active for the first time this season but did not play. He has been slowed by a knee injury. ... Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return. ... Hauschka snapped his streak of 13 straight made field goals when he missed from 51 yards late in the second quarter. ... Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.
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