SEATTLE (AP) – The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will go through San Francisco for the first time since 1997.
The 49ers won the NFC West and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs with a 26-21 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night when Jacob Hollister was stopped by rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw on fourth-and-goal just inches short of the goal line. San Francisco claimed its first division crown since 2012 and wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by silencing a crowd that showed up looking for a division title and to celebrate the return of Marshawn Lynch.
But it took a replay review for San Francisco to finally celebrate its title.
Seattle took possession at its own 27 with 2:27 left down by five. Russell Wilson drove the Seahawks to the San Francisco 1 and on fourth-and-10, Wilson hit John Ursua for 11 yards to the 1. Wilson spiked the ball, but Seattle was called for delay of game on second down with confusion about whether Lynch should enter the game. Backed up to the 6, Wilson was incomplete on two straight passes.
On fourth-and-goal Hollister caught the underneath pass but was knocked down by Greenlaw. Replay confirmed Hollister hit the ground before the ball reached the goal line and San Francisco’s celebration was on.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 285 yards and Raheem Mostert ran for a pair of second-half touchdowns. San Francisco was dominant in the first half and made enough big plays in the second to hold off Seattle’s rally from a 13-0 halftime deficit.
Seattle’s crowd had the stadium shaking after Lynch scored on a 1-yard TD plunge with 9:55 left to pull the Seahawks to 19-14. Skittles rained down on the field and the Seahawks had all the momentum.
But those same fans were silenced in barely four minutes. San Francisco marched downfield with more big plays as Garoppolo hit George Kittle and Deebo Samuel. Mostert capped the drive with his second touchdown — a 13-yard run — and a 26-14 lead with 5:51 remaining.
Seattle scored with 3:36 left on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to DK Metcalf, but Wilson didn’t have one more magical moment.
Wilson was 25 of 30 for 233 yards. Lynch had 12 carries for 34 yards in his first game since October of last season.
The 49ers (13-3) will face the lowest-remaining seed in the NFC at home in two weeks. Seattle (11-5) took its fourth home loss of the season in a place that used to be impenetrable. The Seahawks will play at NFC East champion Philadelphia next week in the wild-card round. Seattle beat the Eagles 17-9 at Philadelphia in late November.
Samuel was a nightmare for the Seahawks, scoring on a 30-yard reverse in the first half and finishing with five catches for 102 yards. Kittle, who didn’t play in the first meeting between the teams in November, had seven catches for 86 yards. Even fullback Kyle Juszczyk had a huge play with a 49-yard catch immediately after Seattle pulled to 13-7 early in the second half.
Garoppolo directed the entire performance. He hit his first nine passes and finished 18 of 22 and didn’t commit a turnover.
Seattle wide receiver Jaron Brown sustained a knee injury in the first quarter and was out for the game. Brown got hit low on the first series and never returned. Seattle was already thin at wide receiver with Malik Turner out due to a concussion.
Mychal Kendricks left in the third quarter with a right knee injury after losing Juszczyk on a 49-yard reception. Kendricks had been dealing with a hamstring injury for several weeks.
FIRST AND LAST
San Francisco owned a rare bit of NFL history. The 49ers played the first game of the 2010s and the last game of the decade as well.
San Francisco played on Jan. 3, 2010 — Week 17 of that season — and its game against St. Louis was the first to kick off that day.
The Sunday night game in Seattle was the final NFL game to be played in the 2010s.
San Francisco: The 49ers will have a bye and host the lowest-remaining seed in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Seattle: The Seahawks will travel to Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs.