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49ers fall 23-17 to Seattle in the NFC Championship game

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

San Francisco lost in the NFC Championship game for the second time in three years with a 23-17 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday evening. The 49ers finish the season with a 14-5 record as their season ended.

After being shut down in the first half to three points, the Seahawks scored their first touchdown on a 40-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch.

Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers answered back with a touchdown drive of their own on a 26-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin. The 49ers quarterback threw it right above Earl Thomas’ head where only Boldin can make a play.

Russell Wilson came back with a critical fourth-down conversion. After Aldon Smith jumped offsides, Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse with a huge 35-yard touchdown reception after he saw a free play on the defensive penalty. Carlos Rogers didn’t time his jump properly as the Seahawks receiver came down with it.

After a Steven Hauschka field goal and NaVorro Bowman going down with an injury, San Francisco still had a chance to take the lead being down by six. Colin Kaepernick found Frank Gore on fourth down and later Michael Crabtree to get to the 29-yard line. Kaepernick also hit Vernon Davis for 11 yards to put them in the red zone.

On the ensuing play, the 49ers season came to an end when Kaepernick threw a pass intended for Crabtree in the end zone. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tipped the ball up in the air and it landed in Malcolm Smith’s hands to finish the game.

“We had two or three chances at the end,” Crabtree said. “[Richard] Sherman made a good play. Guys were beat. We were doing our job, but we came up short at the end.”

The 49ers began right out of the gate with a huge turnover to begin the game. After deferring as they won the coin toss, Aldon Smith forced a fumble by Russell Wilson on the first play from scrimmage. He was able to fall on his own loose ball and the 49ers jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a Phil Dawson field goal.

Kaepernick’s legs did the work on another scoring drive where the 49ers got a touchdown. Starting on their own 14-yard line, a defensive holding penalty on Richard Sherman kept the chains moving on third and nine. The 49ers quarterback had two scrambles of 12 and 58 yards which put them in the red zone. After Frank Gore put the 49ers on the one-yard line, Anthony Dixon leaped over the pile of offensive lineman on fourth down to score the touchdown.

Seattle’s only first half points came thanks to a broken play where Wilson threw a 51-yard pass to Doug Baldwin being the 49ers safeties. San Francisco kept Seattle out of the end zone and Steven Hauschka kicked a 32-yard field goal for three points.

The 49ers defense allowed only 33 rushing yards by Marshawn Lynch on 12 carries in the first half. San Francisco also had a late stand at the end of the second quarter with a turnover on downs.

For Jim Harbaugh, this game wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. He was proud about how his team played throughout the game despite falling to Seattle.

“I thought our guys had tremendous fight as football players,” Harbaugh said. “Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks. It was a 15-round fight by our guys. [The Seahawks] played good football.”

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Game Notes:

-Jim Harbaugh is now 4-3 against Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, counting the postseason.

-The 49ers failed to have any receiver or tight end reach 100 receiving yards or more. That snaps a streak of seven straight games with a receiver having at least 100 receiving yards.

-The 49ers allowed their first 100-yard rusher this year with Marshawn Lynch having 109 rushing yards.