SAN FRANCISCO – It seemed all lined up. The Seahawks had the ball late in the fourth quarter. They got the kickoff in overtime.
But in the end, the magic that has followed the Hawks in the second half of the season never materialized.
The Seahawks failed to lock down a NFC wild-card berth Sunday, losing 26-23 to the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.A win would have clinched the team’s first playoff game since 2016.
Hope is not lost. The Seahawks remain in line for a wild-card berth, and could clinch next week if things fall into place.
There were plenty of bright spots Sunday, though. Wilson and Baldwin looked stellar. Chris Carson carried for more 119 yards.
But the team could not overcome mistimed defense and 14 penalties for 148 yards.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who has struggled with injuries all season, got the game going early.
On the Seahawks’ opening drive, Wilson connected to Baldwin for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The pass put the Seahawks up 6-0 after Sebastian Janikowski missed the extra point with nine minutes left in the first quarter.
But the 49ers answered right back.
San Francisco’s Richie James Jr. returned the kickoff all the way to the house to put the 49ers back up 7-6. It was the first kickoff return against the Hawks since 2011.
Besides the kickoff return, the Seahawks defense held early. Safety Bradley McDougald forced a fumble after a big run, and the Hawks recovered around midfield.The Hawks couldn’t capitalize, though, and punted to end the first quarter.
A short time later, McDougald was on the sidelines with a knee injury.
The 49ers added to their lead midway through the second quarter when Nick Mullens hit Garrett Celek on a 41-yard touchdown pass. The play capped off a 10-play, 98 yard drive – the longest drive this year against the Hawks defense.
But the old connection of Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson worked again.
Scrambling out of the pocket, Baldwin connected for a 35-yard touchdown pass to come within one point with 5:19 left in the first half. Running, leaping, spinning – the connection was classic Baldwin and Wilson.
The 49ers kicked a field goal toward the close of the first half, putting San Francisco up 17-13 at halftime.
Offense was slow to open the second half, with both teams trading defensive. The 49ers connected on another field goal with three minutes left in the third quarter, increasing the 49ers lead to 20-13.
But Chris Carson got the team back in with two long runs, putting the team back in position. It was the sixth time in the last 12 games that Carson ended with more than 100 yards. He finished a stellar drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Hawks were back in business, tied 20-20 with 14 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The 49ers answered with another field goal, putting the 49ers up 23-20 with 9:51 left in the game.
Again, it was the Baldwin and Wilson show. Wilson hit Baldwin on a third and 8 for a 27-yard game to San Francisco’s 31. The Seahawks couldn’t get in the end-zone, and were left with a Janokowski field goal to tie the game 23-23.
Three-and-outs were traded back and forth again. The game went to overtime, and the Hawks couldn’t capitalize after receiving the kick.
The Hawks have their work cut out for them next week. The 11-3 Kansas City Chiefs come in to CenturyLink Field for Sunday Night Football.