The game hardly could have started better for the 49ers.
On the very first snap, Russell Wilson fake a handoff to Marshawn Lynch and pulled out in the opposite direction. But he couldn't get past Aldon Smith, who knocked the ball free and recovered it at Seattle's 15-yard line.
The 49ers settled for a 25-yard Phil Dawson field goal four plays later. Still, compared to previous starts in Seattle in which mistakes, the noise and the Seahawks defense snowballed against the 49ers, this beginning was a masterpiece. The Seahawks hadn't allowed any opening-drive points all season.
Meanwhile, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has gotten off to shaky starts in Seattle in his previous two trips here. But he looks calm and in control in gouging the Seahawks defense for 98 first-half rushing yards, including a 58-yard scamper that set up the game's only touchdown. Kaepernick set an NFL record last year with an 181-yard outing against the Packers. The Seahawks, however, boasted the best defense in the league this season. Kaepernick now has three of the five highest rushing totals for a quarterback in NFL postseason history.
That touchdown came on a one-yard dive by fullback Anthony Dixon. The 49ers thought he had scored on third down, but replays showed his arm landed just short of the goal line. Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers, who had settled for early field goals in their previous two playoff games, decided to go for the touchdown, and this time a leaping Dixon left no doubt.
The score proved costly, however, when left guard Mike Iupati suffered an ankle injury. He will not return to the game.
Meanwhile, the 49ers defense has done an excellent job containing Wilson, who has hurt them in the past by scrambling out of danger and heaving the ball down field. That happened once in the first half on a 51-yard heave to Doug Baldwin, who got past safeties Eric Reid and Donte Whitner.
That set up Seattle's only score of the game, a 32-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka.
Still, Wilson has gained only three yards on the ground while running back Marshawn Lynch has just 33 yards on 12 carries. Smith has two sacks for San Francisco while NaVorro Bowman has one.
-- Matt Barrows