SEATTLE – The Seahawks couldn’t have made much worse of an opening statement as they began a four-game stretch of games that figures to define their 2023 season Thursday night in the first Thanksgiving home game in franchise history.
On a night when they could have moved into first place in the NFC West with a win, the Seahawks instead looked for much of the game like contenders for the first pick in the 2024 draft in dropping a 31-13 decision to the San Francisco 49ers.
Or, maybe, the 49ers are just that much better than the Seahawks right now – the win was the fourth straight for San Francisco against Seattle by a combined 120-56.
OK, in case you tuned out at halftime, it’s worth noting the Seahawks mounted a little bit of a third-quarter uprising to briefly give the home fans some hope, cutting a 24-3 halftime lead to 24-13.
But every time it really mattered, the 49ers were the tougher, faster and ultimately just better team.
The loss was Seattle’s third in four games and second in five days to fall to 6-5.
Meanwhile, it was the third straight win for the 49ers, who not only took command of the NFC West race but now will host Seattle in a rematch in Santa Clara on Dec. 10.
That comes only after Seattle travels next Thursday to play a Dallas team that is 5-0 at home and has yet to trail for even a second of any game at home this season.
And after the game at San Francisco, the Seahawks return home to play a 9-1 Eagles team Dec. 17.
Yep, the season has begun to take a frightful turn.
Certainly, Thursday’s game gave Seahawks fans little to feel thankful for early as the 49ers outgained the Seahawks 148-0 in the first quarter and 225-56 in the first half.
The 49ers got the ball first after the Seahawks won the coin toss and deferred and marched easily and swiftly 71 yards for a TD to take a 7-0 lead, needing to convert only one third down along the way, and that of just 1 yard.
Dee Eskridge returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to put some life into Lumen.
But the Seahawks could get only 1 yard on three plays and had to settle for a Jason Myers field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
And that was basically it for first-half highlights for Seattle.
From there, the Seahawks gave up two more touchdown drives of 45 and 58 yards and saw Smith throw an interception and DeeJay Dallas fumble a punt as they fell behind 24-3 late in the second quarter.
Seattle used its hurry-up offense to move into position for a 53-yard field goal attempt by Myers on the last play of the first half.
But the kick fell wide right, a failure that not only typified the first half ineptitude but also seemed to indicate there was no real hope.
The second half didn’t begin much differently as the 49ers forced a Seattle punt on the Seahawks’ first possession of the third quarter after Seattle got to the San Francisco 42.
That at least allowed the Seahawks to pin the 49ers at their own 4.
And San Francisco for some reason came out throwing.
San Francisco QB Brock Purdy overthrew an open Deebo Samuel on first down.
On second down, Purdy then threw behind an open McCaffrey, who reached for the ball and tipped it right into the hands of linebacker Jordyn Brooks.
Brooks caught it at the 12 and had about the easiest touchdown imaginable, racing in for a pick-six on the first interception of his career.
That cut the lead to 24-10 with 11:23 to play in the third quarter.
It also seemed to momentarily swing the feeling of the game.
Seattle then forced a three-and-out and embarked on its best drive of the game, moving 78 yards in 14 plays, keyed by a one-handed catch by Jaxon Smith-Njigba for 34 yards on a third-and-9.
But the drive stalled after reaching the 49ers’ 8-yard line – even if the Seahawks argued vehemently that it shouldn’t have.
On second down, San Francisco corner Ambry Thomas appeared to get away with a hold on Smith-Njigba on an incomplete pass in the end zone. Geno Smith, who went all the way despite a bruised triceps injury, ran downfield to plead Seattle’s case with no success.
On third down, the 49ers brought pressure and Smith was sacked – one of six for the 49ers in the game – bringing on Myers to make a 30-yarder that cut the lead to 24-13 with 3:13 to play in the third quarter.
And that was basically that.
Seattle’s next drive ended in a sack on third down, with the 49ers then responding with a game-clinching 64-yard drive capped by a 28-yard pass from Purdy to Brandon Aiyuk that made it 31-13 with 7:18 left.
Fittingly, a final Seattle drive deep into 49ers territory ended when Zach Charbonnet was tackled behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-inches at the San Francisco 21.