Instant Analysis: 49ers put up fight, but fall to Seahawks once again

Instant Analysis: 49ers put up fight, but fall to Seahawks once again


SEATTLE – The 49ers have come to Seattle with better teams since the 2012 season, but Kyle Shanahan’s squad kept things interesting for a lot longer than some of those other units.

The 49ers’ young defense kept things close, putting the clamps on Russell Wilson and the struggling Seattle offense for most of Sunday before San Francisco’s upset bid fell short with a 12-9 loss at CenturyLink Field.

The 49ers – listed as a 14-point underdog against the Seahawks -- entered Sunday’s game with six consecutive losses in Seattle by an average deficit of 18 points. The Seahawks entered with seven consecutive victories over the 49ers, including a victory in the 2013 NFC Championship that propelled Pete Carroll’s team to its only Super Bowl victory.

In a game dominated by both defenses, the 49ers’ only offensive spark for most of the game came from running back Carlos Hyde.

Hyde rushed for 124 yards on 15 carries, including a career-long 61-yard burst in the second quarter that gave the 49ers some energy and enabled them to tie the game at halftime.

Since the end of the 2014 season, Hyde is the only running back to gain more than 100 yards against the Seahawks’ home stadium. Hyde has now done it in back-to-back appearances.

The 49ers rallied from a 6-0 deficit to take a 9-6 lead with 11:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. After a steady dose of Hyde, the 49ers sprinkled in undrafted rookie running back Matt Breida on the go-ahead drive. Breida had back-to-back runs of 11 and 13 yards to set up Robbie Gould’s third field goal of the game.

But the Seahawks came back to take a 12-9 lead on Wilson’s 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Paul Richardson. Wilson, running for his life against the 49ers’ pass rush, singlehandedly took Seattle down the field with his ability to scramble for yards and buy time to make plays down the field. Blair Walsh missed the extra point.

The 49ers tied the game with Gould field goals of 40 and 37 yards late in the first half. Walsh gave Seattle a 6-0 lead with field goals of 25 and 27 yards in the first quarter. The latter field goal was set up by Bobby Wagner’s interception of a Brian Hoyer pass.

Hoyer and the passing game struggled throughout the game. Hoyer completed 15 of 27 passes for 99 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Seattle could not sustain much offense, either. Wilson completed 23 of 39 pass attempts for 198 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

Neither the 49ers nor Seahawks scored a touchdown in opening-week losses. The 49ers fell to the Carolina Panthers 23-3, while Seattle opened with a 17-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

--Fifth-year veteran Eric Reid left the game three times with apparent issues with his left knee. He went down in the second quarter with a non-contact knee injury. Reid was approximately 30 yards away from the ball on a deep Wilson pass attempt when he sustained the injury. Reid sat out the remainder of the first half but returned to action at the start of the second half. He briefly left again after a big hit on tight end Jimmy Graham. After re-entering the game, Reid sustained another injury in the third quarter and exited the game for good.

--Outside pass rusher Aaron Lynch, who was not active for the 49ers’ first game of the season, recorded the team’s first sack of the season when he threw Wilson for a 1-yard loss in the first quarter. Tank Carradine and Arik Armstead also recorded sacks.

--Rookie defensive lineman Solomon Thomas recorded two tackles for loss, as he made a major improvement in his second NFL game. He was credited with a “start” because the 49ers opened the game in their nickel defensive package.

--Ray-Ray Armstrong started in place of linebacker Reuben Foster, who is expected to miss approximately a month with a high ankle sprain. Armstrong was briefly benched for Brock Coyle in the first half after he blew a couple of assignments. Armstrong returned to his role in the 49ers’ base defense in the second half.

--Hyde had 102 yards rushing in the first half, becoming the first player since Adrian Peterson in 2012 to rush for 100 or more yards against the Seahawks in a half.

Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”