The story of this week was how the 49ers were about to return at least three of their key players in Mike McGlinchey, Joe Staley and Kyle Juszczyk. For all that excitement, the story of the 49ers’ Monday night matchup with the Seattle Seahawks was the injures they sustained and how they somehow managed to turn a game swung against them into a contest.
All signs pointed to disaster
Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled the ball at all the worst times, twice deep in his own half. With a 10-0 lead in the first half, Garoppolo was strip-sacked by Jarran Reed. The ball bobbled right into the path of Jadaveon Clowney, who scooped the ball up and jogged into the end zone to cut the Seahawks’ deficit to 10-7.
While they finished the first half with the lead, the momentum was in the Seahawks’ favor. Only a touchdown-saving strip by Jaquiski Tartt on D.K. Metcalf kept that lead intact. And by its conclusion, Emmanuel Moseley (rib) had and D.J. Jones (groin), who had been arguably the best players on their side of the ball, were ruled out for the rest of the game. Weston Richburg was able to return with what looked to be a serious left hand injury, and Azeez Al-Shaair was quickly ruled out at the start of the second half after being evaluated for a head injury.
The 49ers’ offense could do nothing with a Chris Carson fumble, trying and failing to convert for a fourth down.
The first turning point in the game was clear to spot: a Kendrick Bourne drop-turned interception. It went right through Bourne’s hands and into those of Seattle safety Quandre Diggs, who returned it for 44 yards.
Three plays later, the Seahawks had their first offensive touchdown and lead of the game at 14-10, courtesy of a one-handed grab by tight end Jordan Hollister.
It seemed like it was only going downhill from there. Seemed.
Three plays later, Garoppolo fumbled inside the 49ers’ own 25-yard-line yet again. Clowney registered the sack and Poona Ford secured the ball. Four plays later, the Seahawks grabbed another touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
At that point, hope seemed to be dwindling for the 49ers. Without George Kittle and with Staley and McGlinchey troubled by the Seahawks’ defensive line and Garoppolo and the offense seemingly unable to get anything going. Deebo Samuel had a key drop on what would have been a massive first down gain, and the 49ers had to punt at the start of the fourth quarter.
The second turning point
Out of nowhere, Wilson had his own fumble, the Seahawks’ third of the game. K’Waun Williams strip-sacked Wilson, who fumbled into the arms of his left tackle, Germain Ifedi. Ifedi, in what was an exquisite display of boneheaded delusion, thought he was Barry Sanders and tried to turn the ball up field. Instead Warner, for the second time in the game (he also had a pair of sacks) forced a fumble, and DeForest Buckner, like Clowney had done to the 49ers earlier, scooped up the ball and ran it in for a touchdown.
To follow that up, Garoppolo converted a two-point to Bourne, who temporarily redeemed himself, then quickly un-redeemed himself.
McLaughlin and Greenlaw time? Almost
It was clutch kicking and defense from a pair of rookies that turned a game the 49ers had no business winning into a season-defining overtime win.
The defense followed up the fumble recovery touchdown with a three-and-out, setting up a response drive from the 49ers’ offense. Samuel had a 24-yard catch to propel the drive, redeeming his earlier drop. And while Bourne had been temporarily redeemed by the 2-point conversion, he undid that good with a crucial drop that nearly became an interception for the second time. The Seahawks were unable to pick off that bobble and rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin tied the game at 21 with his second field goal of the game.
That wasn’t the end of McLaughlin’s night.
Wilson and the Seahawks trudged down the field to notch a field goal that was poised to be a 24-21 game-winner, putting a comeback in doubt.
That seemed even more likely after Garoppolo, with 1:49 remaining in the game, was nearly intercepted twice. Instead, he and the 49ers, in the sloppiest of fashions, managed to get the ball into field goal range.
McLaughlin remained perfect, kicking through a 47-yard game-tying and overtime-inducing field goal.
When overtime hit, the Seahawks won the toss and embarked on what started to feel like one of those classic game-winning drives by Wilson. Instead, Greenlaw interrupted that notion, picking off Wilson for just the second time all year and returning it into the Seahawks’ half.
WHAT. A. PLAY.@DreGreenlaw with the huge interception in OT.
— KNBR (@KNBR) November 12, 2019
That series of events seemed to be setting up for a fittingly bizarre end to an improbable comeback, capped off by a game-winning kick by the 49ers’ rookie kicker for the week.
It was not to be. McLaughlin missed a 47-yarder wide left, allowing the Seahawks to get the ball back with just three minutes and needing only a field goal to walk it off. Instead, the Seahawks and 49ers offenses both sputtered out, and the Seahawks were given one too many chances at a game-winning drive.
Wilson took advantage of that, pushing the ball down to the 49ers’ 24-yard-line. After kicker Jason Myers hit a game-winner that was frozen by a Kyle Shanahan time out, he did it again, leaving Seattle with a 27-24 win.