Deebo Samuel leg pull awakens sleep-walking 49ers, ignites big win over Seahawks


SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It only takes one play to turn a team from indifference to anger.

For the San Francisco 49ers, the play came on the team’s first drive of the second half as they surprisingly rolled past the rookie Seattle Seahawks, who up until that point had been the more physical team.

However, the 49ers received a jolt of energy when Seattle safety Johnathan Abram unnecessarily rolled wide receiver Deebo Samuel’s right ankle at the end of a 21-yard pass play on third-and-7 from the Seattle’s 37-yard line that ended up in the red zone. .

With his star receiver on the field and injured, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan was so angry that he took the field to complain to the officials.

“I’ve lost my mind a little bit on this,” Shanahan said. “I was really worried that he was hurt. I didn’t like the way it looked. I thought it looked pretty bad, the intent of the play. It pissed off a lot of people. It pissed off our team and you could feel it. our team reacts after that.” .

Abram should have been flagged for a personal foul, but he wasn’t on the play.

“I got a little low because I almost lost my cool,” Samuel said. “You can see our team’s definition of IGYB: I picked you up.”

Tight end George Kittle and other players came to his teammate’s defense as Samuel stayed on the ground, gesturing to a nearby official for the lack of call.

“I don’t know why you’d want to make Deebo mad,” Kittle said. “But if you do that to him, you’re just going to piss off Trent Williams, who is one of the scariest people on the football field.

“You’re going to fire up our whole defense and get our whole team fired up, so I don’t know what the point of that is. … They gave us another reason to turn the switch even higher, which is what we do. .”

As Kittle said, other San Francisco players joined in and a small melee ensued between the two teams, with players pushing and shoving before the refs could break it up.

Properly motivated, San Francisco took the lead for five good players after a 1-yard run by rookie Brock Purdy, and the 49ers ran away from the Seahawks, a 41-23 victory in an NFC Wild Card contest at Levi’s Stadium. Saturday afternoon

With the win, the 49ers will host the Minnesota Vikings if they defeat the New York Giants on Sunday, or the winner of the Monday Night Football contest between the visiting Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 49ers jumped out to a 10-0 lead, then slept through a second quarter dominated by Seattle. The Seahawks outscored San Francisco 17-6 in the quarter, including a 56-yard field goal set up by a poorly executed squib kick on a San Francisco punt.

Shanahan wasn’t pleased with his team’s halftime performance, but the more talented 49ers finally woke up after the Samuel incident. San Francisco scored 25 straight points to open the second half, including a beautiful 74-yard catch and run by Samuel in which fellow wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk led the way by sealing Seattle cornerback Tariq Woolen 30 yards downfield .

Samuel, who missed three games in December with a left knee injury, finished with a team-high six receptions for 133 yards on a rainy day.

Christian McCaffrey totaled 119 rushing yards on 15 carries, including a 68-yard run midway through the first quarter.

The 49ers outscored Seattle in the second half. It’s what good teams do, make big plays to destroy an inferior opponent.

But the teams will get better as San Francisco moves further into the postseason. The 49ers can’t afford to be complacent and let better teams than Seattle stretch for large portions of the game.

Playing in his first playoff game, Purdy was impressive, completing 18 of 30 passes for 332 yards, with three touchdown passes and no interceptions for a 131.5 passer rating. At 23, Purdy became the youngest player in NFL postseason history to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns in a game, surpassing his childhood hero Dan Marino.

Purdy was excited to learn during the postgame presser that NBA star LeBron James had praised him on social media, saying he had game.

“Lebron said that? Oh, that’s sweet,” said a smiling Purdy. “This is awesome.”

For one half, the Seahawks showed they could hang with one of the best teams in the NFL. However, San Francisco wrestled control of the game forcing Seattle quarterback Geno Smith into two turnovers, an interception by Deommordore Lenoir and a Charles Omenihu fumble recovered by Nick Bosa with the Seahawks driving to score.

Expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Seahawks were playing on the house’s money after finishing 9-8 and advancing to the postseason.

“This team is going to be a really big team, and I think the city of Seattle knows that,” Seahawks safety Ryan Neal said. “To be honest with you, they should be very excited. If we add a couple more pieces, get back together and get healthy, this team is something to fear. There’s a very bright future for this organization , for sure. “

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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