SEATTLE -– After back-to-back disheartening losses, the 49ers showed Sunday they still had some fight left in them.
Faced with the possibility of being eliminated from the NFC playoff picture, the 49ers put together a determined effort against the Seattle Seahawks, one of the league’s hottest teams.
Despite being decimated by injuries, the 49ers did not go down easily in a 17-7 loss to the surging Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
The 49ers (7-7) were officially eliminated from playoff contention with the Detroit Lions’ 16-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. It was the first time coach Jim Harbaugh has not advanced the 49ers to the postseason in his four seasons with the club.
In a season in which very little went right for the 49ers, Sunday proved to be the perfect microcosm for their season. They battled injury problems throughout the game and had a controversial call go against them at a critical moment.
Running back Frank Gore left the game in the second quarter with a concussion and backup Carlos Hyde was twisted awkwardly in the third quarter and hobbled off with a right knee injury. The 49ers started backup offensive linemen Joe Looney at center and Jonathan Martin at right tackle.
On defense, the 49ers did not have cornerbacks Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver due to injuries. And leading tackler Chris Borland played one snap in the second half after sustaining an ankle sprain on the final play of the second quarter.
The 49ers were right in the game and appeared to escape early in the fourth quarter by allowing a Seattle field goal that would’ve given them a six-point lead. But referee Ed Hochuli called 49ers linebacker Nick Moody for roughing the passer for a hit to quarterback Russell Wilson’s chest on a third-down incompletion.
With a new set of downs, Wilson capitalized with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Paul Richardson for a 17-7 lead with 13:20 remaining.
It took the Seahawks awhile, but quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch finally got going in the second half. Wilson completed 12 of 24 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Lynch gained 91 yards on 21 rushing attempts.
The 49ers, who were held to a mere field goal in a Thanksgiving night loss to the Seahawks, scored on Frank Gore’s 10-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to take a 7-3 lead. The 49ers capped that drive with seven consecutive run plays after Colin Kaepernick picked up a first down with a 15-yard pass to Anquan Boldin on third and 11.
The 49ers’ defense held Seattle without a touchdown until late in the third quarter. Marshawn Lynch finally broke through with a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Seahawks a 10-7 lead.
Kaepernick completed 11 of 19 passes for 141 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He was sacked six times for minus 36 yards. Kaepernick rushed nine times for 46 yards.
The Seahawks (10-4) remain in contention for the NFC West title, just one game behind the division-leading Arizona Cardinals.
Gore sustains concussion: Gore sustained a concussion in the second quarter and did not return to action. He ustained his injury while he made a block attempt on Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner.
He remained on the field for several moments near the 49ers sideline. Then, he left the field and went to the locker room with members of the team’s medical staff. Gore broke into a jog. Gore had 29 yards on 11 carries, including a 10-yard touchdown run that gave the 49ers a 7-3 lead in the second quarter. The 49ers had a 7-6 lead at halftime.
Injury report: Linebacker Chris Borland, the 49ers’ leading tackler, sustained an ankle sprain on the final play of the first half. He returned for one snap of defense in the second half, but did not play again. Nick Moody replaced him.
Tight end Garrett Celek also sustained an ankle injury. Rookie Asante Cleveland took over as the team’s No. 2 tight end.
Brooks is back: Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks made an immediate impact in his return to the starting lineup. On the Seahawks’ first drive of the game, Brooks recorded a third-down sack of Wilson to force a punt.
Brooks did not play last week in the 49ers’ 24-13 loss to the Raiders after he missed a meeting on Tuesday and showed up 20 minutes late a day later. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said it was an easy decision to bench Brooks, breaking his streak of 60 consecutive regular-season starts since the 2011 season.
Johnson starts: Rookie cornerback Dontae Johnson made his first career start with cornerback Chris Culliver inactive due to a knee injury. Joe Looney started at center, as Marcus Martin was out with a knee injury, too.
In anticipation of Culliver and Martin being unavailable, the 49ers on Saturday promoted cornerback Marcus Cromartie and guard Andrew Tiller from the practice squad.
This ‘n’ that
--Second-year safety Eric Reid broke the team down with a pep talk in the middle of the field before the 49ers went back to the locker room following warmups. Patrick Willis handled those responsibilities for several seasons, but Willis recently underwent season-ending toe surgery. Earlier this season, his teammates voted Reid as the 49ers’ player representative.
--Reid seemed particularly fired up for the game, but it was not all positive energy. Reid was called for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Doug Baldwin out of bounds, then a high hit on a defenseless receiver on the same first-quarter drive. Those 30 yards in penalties helped set up Steven Hauschka’s 38-yard field goal.
--Reid helped thwart a Seahawks scoring chance on the final play of the first half. The Seahawks were already in field-goal range with :08 remaining, but coach Pete Carroll elected to try one more play with no timeouts. Reid intercepted Wilson’s pass and returned it 73 yards.
--Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (knee) did not suit up for the game.
--Tight end Garrett Celek had a 31-yard reception in the first quarter. It was the longest reception from a 49ers tight end this season. Vernon Davis had a 29-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of the 49ers’ season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.