The Seattle Seahawks will have to pack up their belongings and head into the offseason after their season-ending 41-23 loss to the 49ers in the wild-card round Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.
When Seattle entered the locker room leading 17-16 at halftime, however, the team thought the 49ers would be the ones booking offseason vacations this weekend.
“This was a really frustrating day for us in that we really had a shot at putting this game away on our end of it, and we could have done it today,” coach Pete Carroll said after the game. “… We really felt like we had done some things we could fix and we could play a better second half. We go through the third quarter 23-17, and it’s there. It’s there to be had.”
Geno Smith completed nine of 10 pass attempts for 104 yards and a touchdown in the first half for a near-perfect 143.3 passer rating. He drew an unnecessary roughness penalty on 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward in the closing seconds of the second quarter, which landed the Seahawks in range for kicker Jason Myers to boot a 56-yard field goal through the uprights for a one-point lead at halftime.
On the flip side, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, looked like a rookie in the first half. He misfired on more pass attempts (10) than he completed (9) in the first two quarters.
“You look at the first half of the game. They were probably sweating down their backs,” safety Ryan Neal said.
After halftime, the 49ers marched down the field on a drive that ate up nearly half of the third quarter and was capped off by Purdy’s one-yard touchdown scamper. Seattle countered with an impressive drive of its own and looked primed to put some points on the board before Smith fumbled the ball away at the 49ers’ 19-yard line.
“We were playing them tight,” Smith said. “The game was there to be had for us. Came out the second half, they scored, we got a drive going, we get down in their territory and, obviously, I make the mistake right there.”
The 49ers took advantage of the turnover with another long drive and touchdown for a 31-17 lead to put the game out of reach.
“I’m not dwelling on the negative part,” Carroll said. “… But really disappointed that we had it. We had such a good opportunity today. You all felt it, and I know you could tell, and it was really exciting. It was a great finish — Jason [Myers] hitting the kick right at halftime to give us that assurance that, yeah, we can come back and we can be in this thing, and we’re for real.
“But they did a nice job in the second half.”
The 49ers finished off the rival Seahawks for a third time this season. San Francisco will host another playoff game at Levi’s Stadium next week while Seattle will look ahead to free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft in which it will have two choices in the first 20 picks.