SEATTLE - CenturyLink Field continued to be a house of horrors for the 49ers, who lost two more starters - including the team's defensive MVP, NaVorro Bowman, to what Jim Harbaugh said was a likely ACL tear - to injuries.
Bowman suffered the gruesome injury in the fourth quarter when Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse fell onto his outstretched leg. Bowman was pulling the ball free from Kearse's grasp near the goal line as safety Eric Reid drove the receiver into Bowman.
Bowman recovered the ball, but the officials ruled that he lost it again and that the Seahwks recovered. He was carted into the locker room, his head bowed, and he did not return. He slowly left the locker room afterward while using two black, metal canes.
A number of 49ers were kneeling as Bowman was loaded onto the cart. "I look at him as my brother, as my partner in crime on the field," linebacker Patrick Willis said. "I know how tough he is, and when he couldn't get up on his own ... I could hear him yelling. I never heard him yell like that, or stay down."
Meanwhile, left guard Mike Iupati, who paved the way for Frank Gore last week against Carolina, had to be helped off the field early in the second quarter with a broken ankle. Iupati missed four games earlier this year with a sprained knee. In the run-up to Sunday's game, he said that injury, as well as a shoulder injury he suffered early in the season, finally were feeling better. He had perhaps his best game of the season against the Panthers as Gore ran for 84 yards and averaged nearly five yards a carry.
On Sunday Gore had only 14 yards on 11 carries. The 49ers rushed for 161 yards, but 130 came on Colin Kaepernick scrambles.
Iupati was hurt on a fourth-and-goal touchdown leap by fullback Anthony Dixon, who landed on Iupati. Another player fell on Iupati's lower leg in the pile. Adam Snyder filled in at left guard when Iupati missed time earlier this year, and he filled in for most of the second quarter and the second half Sunday.
Last year in Seattle, tight end Vernon Davis was knocked out of the game with a concussion while a knee injury ended receiver Mario Manningham's season in the same game. Earlier this year in Seattle, nose tackle Ian Williams was lost for the season with a broken ankle.
Bowman is likely to miss the 49ers' entire offseason and perhaps part of the regular season as he rehabilitates his knee.
He led the 49ers in tackles this season, and his 14 stops on Sunday led the 49ers. Earlier this month, teammates voted Bowman the winner of their most prestigious honor, the Len Eshmont Award. Willis thinks Bowman deserves one more award.
"If he doesn't get defensive player of the year, then I don't know what they go by," he said.
Mouth roars - The game had long ended, but Seattle's notorious agitator, cornerback Richard Sherman, was still stirring the pot. Over and over.
He twice called his main 49ers adversary, Michael Crabtree, a "mediocre receiver" and said that he wouldn't put Crabtree among the Top 20 receivers in the league.
"I'm the best corner in the game," Sherman said during his postgame interview as he was coming off the field. "When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you're going to get."
"He knows I'm going to be tough on him for the rest of his career," said Sherman, who tipped an end-zone pass to Crabtree that teammate Malcolm Smith intercepted to seal Seattle's win.
Sherman then gave Crabtree a patronizing pat on the bottom and said something to the receiver that drew a taunting penalty.
Said Crabtree after the game: "He's a TV guy. I'm not a TV guy. I play ball."
Rogers returns - Cornerback Carlos Rogers, who missed the 49ers' first two playoff games with a hamstring strain, was back on Sunday but not in his familiar starting role. Rogers instead was in the nickel cornerback role that Perrish Cox had played in the previous two playoff games.
Rogers was covering Kearse on his pivotal, 35-yard touchdown catch on fourth and 7 in the fourth quarter that gave the Seahawks their first lead.
Another cornerback, Eric Wright, was inactive for the game. At one point this season, it appeared as if Wright would have a big role on the 49ers' 2014 defense. However, he was beaten out by Cox before the Packers game and did not play Sunday, suggesting that plan is now in doubt.
Hello, old friend - Return man LaMichael James briefly left the game with a neck injury after he was hit hard by former teammate Ricardo Lockette following a muffed punt to start the second quarter. The loose ball was recovered by cornerback Darryl Morris, and James later returned to the game.
Proud father -- Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said he was proud of his unit and expressed just that after the game. "I went around the locker room, and kissed every one of the guys," he said. "I've never done that before. I'm just sorry that we came up short."
-- Matt Barrows