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49ers pull out 19-17 win vs. Seahawks

  • Eric Wright's interception means the ball and the victory belong to the 49ers. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

SAN FRANCISCO — Faced with a late deficit against a team that has emerged as a nemesis, with an icy wind sweeping Candlestick Park and a young quarterback stuck in low gear, the 49ers fell back upon a formula that has served them well for nearly a decade. They gave the ball to Frank Gore.

The 30-year-old halfback, battling an ankle injury since the 49ers' bye week at the end of October, took a handoff with about 4 minutes left in Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, found a big hole to his left, cut back across the field and showed some retro speed on the way to a 51-yard gain.

From there, the game played out like the final pages of a 49ers-written script. Colin Kaepernick picked up a first down on a designed quarterback run. Placekicker Phil Dawson booted a 22-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to give San Francisco a 19-17 lead. And nickel corner Eric Wright intercepted Russell Wilson's desperation heave with nine seconds on the clock to ice the Niners' victory.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

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Gore's gain came on a simple off-tackle run, but a particular play that offensive coordinator Greg Roman had saved for the moment. Left guard Adam Snyder, an injury sub, kicked out on a defensive lineman and Gore did the rest.

“When I saw the hole I kind of knew that 29 (free safety Earl Thomas) was going — he's so fast to the ball, I knew he was going to overrun it,” Gore said. “So I kind of set him outside and then broke him back in because he's so aggressive.”

It wasn't just the yardage that made Gore's jaunt the decisive play. It was his savvy decision to slide to the turf as he neared the right sideline, as opposed to running out of bounds and stopping the clock. That made any comeback by the Seahawks a long shot.

The win couldn't have come at a better time for the 49ers, or against a more relevant foe.

It allowed the Niners to keep pace with potential playoff competitors like Philadelphia and Arizona. More important, it proved this team has the fortitude to beat the Seahawks, who were riding a seven-game win streak and coming off a dismantling of the high-powered Saints, and who entered Sunday with a three-game lead over San Francisco in the NFC West, at 11-1.

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