49ers lead Seahawks 10-3 at half in NFC title game

January 20, 2014
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Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and San Francisco 49ers' Aldon Smith go after Wilson's fumble on the first play of the first half of the NFL football NFC Championship game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Seattle. The 49ers recovered the ball. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

SEATTLE (AP) — Colin Kaepernick scrambled for a career-long 58-yard run early in the second quarter and Anthony Dixon scored on a leaping 1-yard touchdown run on his second try after the first got overruled on review, leading the San Francisco 49ers to a 10-3 halftime lead against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC championship game Sunday.

While the 49ers built an advantage at CenturyLink Field, they lost a key player in the process.

Left guard Mike Iupati injured his right ankle with 10:03 remaining and went to the locker room for X-rays. It was announced he would not return.

Return man LaMichael James went down with a neck injury after he fumbled the catch on a punt to begin the second quarter. He returned at the start of the second half.

Kaepernick's 58-yard run is the longest allowed by Seattle this season, topping Frank Gore's 51-yard gain that set up the winning field goal in the 49ers' 19-17 victory Dec. 8 at Candlestick Park.

San Francisco's defense brought the pressure and sacked Russell Wilson four times in the first half, keeping the Seahawks offense from getting untracked.

Marshawn Lynch was limited to 33 yards on 12 carries. Kaepernick had 98 yards on eight rushes, while passing for only 17.

While Wilson went 8 for 12 for 112 yards, he was rarely comfortable in the pocket.

He completed a 51-yard pass to Doug Baldwin in which he beat two defenders who had moved up to support when Wilson scrambled right. When Wilson turned back to his left, Baldwin took off. He injured a hip on the play, briefly headed to the locker room before returning.

Wilson then took a 5-yard sack from Dan Skuta on first-and-10 from the 11, and Steven Hauschka kicked a 32-yard field goal three plays later to put Seattle on the board.

The 49ers' four first-half sacks included one by Aldon Smith on the first play of the game from scrimmage, when he also knocked the ball loose and recovered it to set up Phil Dawson's 25-yard field goal. Smith had another late in the half.

Just before halftime, Seattle missed a key opportunity. Rather than attempting a 55-yard field goal, the Seahawks went for it on fourth-and-6 at the 38 and Wilson threw incomplete under pressure.

Anquan Boldin, Kaepernick's top target all season, had a pair of first-half drops while Kaepernick hadn't attempted a pass to tight end Vernon Davis.

To start the game, Smith didn't take the fake and stormed at Wilson, but San Francisco had to settle for a field goal despite getting the ball at the Seattle 15.

That quick lead quieted the raucous 12th Man home crowd at CenturyLink Field, where the 49ers' first half output topped their total from an embarrassing 29-3 Week 2 loss against the rival and NFC West champion Seahawks.

Kaepernick ran for gains of 17 and 8 yards and hit rookie tight end Vance McDonald on a 13-yard completion in San Francisco's second series but came away empty-handed.

In what started as another defensive game between the division foes, the 49ers narrowly outgained Seattle in total yards 128-126 in the first half as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the second straight season. The reigning NFC champions fell just short last year, 34-31 against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Seahawks are chasing their first Super Bowl berth since the 2005 season and second in franchise history, riding a six-game playoff winning streak at home and having won 17 of 18 overall in Seattle.

San Francisco — riding an eight-game winning streak after wins at Green Bay and Carolina this postseason — lost in its past two visits in Seattle's deafening home stadium, including 29-3 in Week 2 on Sept. 15. The 49ers have been outscored 71-16 in their past two trips, committing seven turnovers.

This marked Kaepernick's first chance with a receiving group intact at Seattle after top 2012 wideout Michael Crabtree missed the last game here recovering from May surgery on his right Achilles tendon.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers returned for the 49ers after missing the team's first two playoff wins with a strained right hamstring. He was flagged for a late hit out of bounds on Golden Tate just before halftime.


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