For the first time since 2013, the San Francisco 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks. And they did it to the tune of 26-23. In overtime. In the rain. With a quarterback who started the year on the practice squad, albeit one who has taken the title QB1 and run with it, but still.
“The more guys play and the more success they have, the more confidence they get,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “[Quarterback Nick Mullens] did a great job that second half throwing the ball two weeks ago. I thought we had a lot more success throwing the ball today. We struggled on third downs form what I remember today in the second half and we didn’t get to stay on the field as long and get those opportunities. I think Nick is getting better the more he plays.”
For a certain former Seattle cornerback who was highly responsible for the streak on the other side, today’s win was that much more special.
“Honestly, it means a lot beating Seattle for me, but it’s just the way the guy showed up and kept battling throughout the game,” said Richard Sherman. “This was a tough game. Those guys played their hearts. We’re out there with an incredibly young team…We’ve got three rookies in the secondary…basically three rookie receivers. [Tight end George] Kittle is in his second year, a rookie running back, second year quarterback…Young guys, but they stepped up to the moment. Nick Mullens has stepped up to the moment, week in and week out, and he’s shown he can play in this league. I just hope we can keep him.”
Mullens finished the day 20-of-29 for 275 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 110.6. Late in the fourth quarter, he made a tremendous throw to rookie wide receiver Dante Pettis, which was probably the best throw of his career to date.
“You can’t play if you’re not confident,” Mullens said. “So, I always take the field as a confident player. I’m confident in my teammates, as well. Everybody worked together really well today. I’ve said it to you guys so many times, but when everybody is focusing on their specific assignment, working together, that’s when we’re best. That makes me most confident. So, that’s how it felt today. Confidence; the more you play, the more you do it, the better you feel. Always confident, that’s for sure.”
DeForest Buckner continued his dominating season with 11 total tackles, two sacks. three QB hits, and four tackles for loss. The two sacks put him at 11 on the season and he confirmed after the game that his goal for the season was to get into double digits.
After the 49ers loss to the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago, Buckner called upon his team to step up and step up they have.
“We took it personally,” Buckner said. “They flat-out embarrassed us two weeks ago. Everybody from top-to-bottom wasn’t happy about it. We knew it was going to be a dog fight coming in this week…It was a long two weeks for sure. Everybody wanted to get out there and redeem themselves. Like I said, from start to finish, everybody gave it just a little more. When it got to overtime, it was about who wanted it more.”
The coaches made sure the 49ers remembered the loss at Century Link Field and used it to prepare this week, as seen in the below video.
— Tracy Sandler (@49ersfangirl) December 17, 2018
Sherman knows his former team has the utmost respect for him and his abilities.
“…I’m pretty inflammatory on the other side; I’m pretty inflammatory on both sides,” Sherman said. “My truth isn’t always everybody’s truth. Sometimes my comments are used as, I highly doubt [Seahawks head coach] Pete [Carroll] is overlooking any game that I’m playing and Russell as well. Those guys played hard. They played their game, they brought it. It wasn’t like they just played a lackadaisical game and just gave away things. They played hard, they battled. Our guys just executed down the stretch. We played our tails off, we strained.”
That was true on all sides of the ball.
“I was just so proud that we found a way to win,” Mullens said. “Might not have been the prettiest. Everybody worked well together. When we were passing the ball, that was cool. But when we didn’t do good passing the ball, we ran the ball well. Then, when we didn’t convert on offense, the defense stepped up and then the special teams touchdown. So, if you want to look at a textbook, collective team win, I believe that was it.”
Special teams was a huge part of the win, starting with rookie Richie James, Jr.’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the first quarter and ending with Robbie Gould’s 36-yard game winning field goal in overtime. Good as Gould.
The Seahawks didn’t do themselves any favors, committing 14 penalties for 148 yards.
With the win, the 4-10 49ers may have lost the #1 draft pick, but players play to win. Winning is fun, especially when it breaks the a 10 game losing streak against your division rival.
“…Those are the games you get pumped up to play in,” said Mullens. “Like coach said last night, I don’t even have to tell you all anything. If you’re not pumped up for this, then something’s wrong with you…”
Bring on the Bears. Go Niners!