SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Seattle’s Steven Hauschka kicked a 52-yard field goal before San Francisco’s David Akers answered with a 38-yarder, and the Seahawks and 49ers were tied 3-3 after the first quarter Thursday night with first place in the NFC West at stake.
On a relatively warm and windless night at Candlestick Park, Russell Wilson led Seattle on the 10-play, 62-yard drive that started from its own 4-yard line before settling for a field goal in a matchup of two of the league’s top defenses. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 32 yards to help the Seahawks create some early separation.
Seattle has scored first in all seven of its games.
Michael Crabtree caught a 16-yard pass from Alex Smith on San Francisco’s second drive, placing his hand on the ground to avoid going down and making three defenders miss along the sideline. The completion moved the 49ers to the Seattle 19 before the All-Pro Akers kicked the tying field goal late in the quarter.
San Francisco moved the ball into Seattle territory on the game’s opening drive on a 14-yard catch by Randy Moss, whose repetitions increased with starter Mario Manningham inactive with a shoulder injury. Then Smith threw incomplete twice between a short run by Frank Gore and the 49ers were forced to punt.
The three-way tie atop the NFC West — with San Francisco, Seattle and Arizona all with 4-2 records — was set to be broken. The St. Louis Rams are 3-3.
Defense has been perhaps the biggest turnaround for a division some called the NFC Worst a couple of years ago. Seattle (15.3) and San Francisco (15.7) rank second and third, respectively, in points allowed per game.
San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for jawing with Marshawn Lynch during Seattle’s scoring drive. Lynch, who ran for 107 yards in the last meeting as San Francisco’s streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher ended at 36 games, had 17 yards on five carries in the first quarter.
San Francisco was looking to rebound from a 26-3 defeat at home last week to the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, the most lopsided loss under coach Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers are 4-0 after a loss in Harbaugh’s tenure.
They also swept the season series against Seattle last year for the first time since 2006.
The brewing rivalry between the last two division champions only heated up when Harbaugh and Seattle’s Pete Carroll were reunited on opposite sidelines last year. Harbaugh has won the last three against Carroll.
That streak goes back to Harbaugh’s win at Stanford against Carroll’s Southern California team in 2009, when the Cardinal routed the Trojans 55-21. Harbaugh even had his team attempt a late 2-point conversion with the game out of reach that prompted Carroll’s infamous midfield confrontation afterward, asking Harbaugh, “What’s your deal?”
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