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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

December 9, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Seahawks talk: What national media say about 49ers loss

The Seahawks’ 19-17 loss to the 49ers on Sunday drew mixed reviews from national media, but the consensus was that Seattle is still the best team in the NFL and that the two teams could meet again in the playoffs. Here are highlights and links to other stories:

Terry Blount, ESPN.com, ESPN.com

The Seahawks still firmly believe they are on the right path to get there. Losing a close one to the 49ers didn’t place any doubts in their heads. And there’s no way the 49ers walked away from this one and honestly said to themselves, “Oh yeah, we’re better than they are.”

The Seahawks, now 11-2 and still likely to clinch the NFC West crown, walked away firmly believing they’re the better team, despite the slight hiccup Sunday.

And they’re right. San Francisco (9-4) did nothing more than hold serve, barely, thanks to some sloppy play by the team that had beaten them by a combined score of 71-16 in the previous two meetings.

All this game proved is that Seattle can’t have nine penalties for 85 yards and get a punt blocked, and still beat a strong team on the road.

Matt Williamson, ESPN.com

It was a heavyweight battle between two of the league’s best teams in what I believe to be the best rivalry in the NFL right now. The win keeps San Francisco in the driver’s seat for a wild-card berth in the NFC, even with the Cardinals handling the St. Louis Rams with ease in Arizona on Sunday.

But despite the victory, the 49ers shouldn’t celebrate too much. They still have a long way to go to catch the Seahawks, who remain the best team in the NFC in my eyes.

Austin Murphy, SI.com

Should one play change our opinion of this team? Will a single snap alter the 49ers’ trajectory, come January?

You’ve already seen it a score of times: with the entire field at Candlestick Park in shadows, the clock under five minutes and the 49ers trailing by a point in a contest they’d elevated, in their minds, to a playoff game, sawed-off Seahawk-killer Frank Gore took a handoff left, cut back hard to the right and went 51 yards before he was run down by cornerback Richard Sherman. It says everything about Gore, and his football intellect, that he went down in bounds, to eat clock.

His heroics – and the inspired play call by offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the superb execution by the Niners’ offensive line – set up the field goal that won the game for San Francisco 19-17. It was a hard-fought, ugly win against what looks suspiciously like the NFL’s best team (sorry, Broncos). It puts the 49ers in very good position to secure a wild-card playoff berth.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

On a snowy, blustery, miserable day elsewhere in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers played in sunshine and basked in the relatively warm winds of change.

They beat Seattle at home, 19-17, reversing the flow after lopsided losses to the Seahawks in their previous two meetings.

The 11-2 Seahawks still have a two-game lead in the NFC West with three weeks to go, and the inside track on the No. 1 seed in the conference. But 9-4 San Francisco gets the psychological boost of knocking off a bitter rival, and what had been the league’s hottest team.

Lindsay H. Jones, USA Today

San Francisco’s win might not ultimately change the division standings, not with Seattle still holding a two-game lead with three games remaining, but the Niners can now believe a playoff rematch with the Seahawks, even at the dreaded CenturyLink Field, might not be so scary.

The 49ers have now won three consecutive games, and (Frank) Gore said he wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t done with the Seahawks yet.

Tim Kawakami, San Jose Mercury News

The 49ers didn’t play perfect football Sunday, but they forced Seattle into even less-perfect football.

The 49ers didn’t trick or toy with Seattle, they delivered gut-shots, took shots, staggered into clenches to avoid a knockout and made the last rally that mattered.

The natural reaction was relief, joy … and then the realization of just how brutal it all was to endure.

Vinnie Iyer, sportingnews.com

The Seattle Seahawks (11-2) are still the favorite to win the NFC and get to the Super Bowl this season. But Sunday’s 19-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers (9-4) was a reminder that to be the champs, they likely will need to beat the champs again.

The Seahawks dominated the teams’ Week 2 matchup in Seattle, 29-3, but the 49ers were more up for the physical task to earn the split at home in Week 14. Despite another tough game for Colin Kaepernick and the passing game against a difficult defense, they sent an important message: They’re not quite done with their reign yet.

Michael Barrows, Sacramento Bee

After Seattle (11-2) had taken a 17-16 lead on Steven Hauschka’s 31-yard field goal with 6:20 remaining, however, (offensive coordinator Greg) Roman dialed a play – called 97 G-rub – he hadn’t called all season. Roman said the play, an outside run to the left by Frank Gore, was unique because of the angles used by the 49ers‘ blockers against the fast and aggressive Seahawks defenders.

Every San Francisco lineman had a solid block off the snap, and Gore cut back to his right against the pursuing Seahawks defense at precisely the right time. At that point, Gore saw something he’d seldom seen since the 49ers’ bye – room to roam – and ran 51 yards before sliding down in bounds to keep the clock running.

“It’s hard to get hats on hats against the Seahawks,” Roman said. “They like to outnumber you. They keep a lot of dudes down around the box. They’re a hell of a defense. And everybody got the job done, it looked like, and Frank got it done.”

After the game, the team’s offensive linemen said the 49ers knew the play would work. It was just a matter of finding the right time to run it, something Roman said he wrestled with earlier in the game.

Said center Jonathan Goodwin: “Fortunately for whatever reason, it got held until the end of the game, and it popped big for us.”

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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