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September 15, 2013
Lightning crashes, so does Kaepernick


SEATTLE -- The lightning crashed and so did the 49ers' offense.

After throwing for 412 yards against the Packers a week earlier, Colin Kaepernick on Sunday found the coverage suffocating and the noise deafening inside Seattle's CenturyLink field. The 49ers quarterback threw three interceptions - including one by noted 49ers scourge, Richard Sherman - fumbled on another play and finished with just 127 yards in the 29-3 loss to the Seahawks.

With the win, Seattle took an early one-game lead in the NFC West. The game was delayed for an hour in the first quarter due to lightning strikes in the area.

Kaepernick's passing total was a career low and his interceptions a career high. He had never thrown more than one in his previous 11 starts. "We're not going to win games if I play like that," he said afterward.

He had plenty of company at the bottom of the stat sheet as the 49ers once again unraveled badly at the home of their arch rivals. Receiver Anquan Boldin, who finished with 208 receiving yards a week ago, had one catch for seven yards against the Seahawks. Frank Gore finished with 16 yards on nine carries, a 1.8-yard average.

Three 49ers, Aldon Smith, Vance McDonald and Anthony Davis were hit with personal fouls after reacting to Seahawks players eager to goad them into silly penalties. A week after finishing with 11 penalties, the 49ers had 12 against the Seahawks. "We definitely made things harder on ourselves," Jim Harbaugh said.

Perhaps the biggest concern for the 49ers is that they were beat up for the second straight time in Seattle.

Nose tackle Ian Williams is out for an extended period with a broken ankle while rookie Eric Reid, who had an interception in the first quarter, left the game with a concussion.Tight end Vernon Davis, who had three catches for 20 yards, suffered a hamstring strain on Sherman's interception and did not return to the game. Defensive end Ray McDonald limped off the field late in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.

Like Kaepernick, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson also struggled at times but made several plays when he was on the run. The biggest came in the third quarter when he escaped the pocket and saw that receiver Doug Baldwin had gotten behind safety Donte Whitner on the play. Baldwin hauled in an easy 51-yard reception, and six plays later Marshawn Lynch rumbled into the end zone with a 14-yard touchdown that gave Seattle a 12-0 lead.

The 49ers responded with a nine-play drive that included a 28-yard scramble by Kaepernick. Unlike last week when he encountered a Packers defense that was geared to stop the 49ers' running game, especially the read-option attack, Kaepernick found more running room and led the 49ers with 87 rushing yards.

The running opportunities, however, shrunk the closer he got to the end zone.

The third-quarter drive bogged down inside the Seahawks' 10-yard line, and San Francisco had to settle for a chip-shot field goal by Phil Dawson. Following a blocked punt by Craig Dahl in the first quarter, Kaepernick drove the 49ers to the Seattle 5-yard line. His third-down pass to a well-covered Davis, however, was tipped in the air and intercepted by safety Earl Thomas.

The 49ers offense dealt with terrible field position throughout the evening.

In the second quarter they were backed against the Seahawks' noisy east end zone when, with Kaepernick standing behind the goal line, fullback Bruce Miller was flagged for holding, which resulted in a safety.

Later in the second quarter, Kaepernick was searching for an open receiver on third down when he was hit from behind by Cliff Avril, dislodging the ball. Linebacker K.J. Wright recovered, and six plays later Steven Hauschka connected on a 30-yard field goal, the only offensive points of the first half.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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