SEATTLE (AP) — Aldon Smith sacked Russell Wilson on the first play from scrimmage, knocked the ball loose and recovered it to set up Phil Dawson's 25-yard field goal, and the San Francisco 49ers led the Seattle Seahawks 3-0 after one quarter in the NFC championship game Sunday.
Smith didn't take the fake on the initial play and stormed at Wilson, but San Francisco had to settle for a field goal despite getting the ball at Seattle's 15.
That quick lead quieted the raucous 12th Man home crowd at CenturyLink Field, where the 49ers already had matched their total from an embarrassing 29-3 Week 2 loss against the rival and NFC West champion Seahawks.
Seattle went three-and-out on the next drive, then began from its own 1. On third-and-7 from the 14, Wilson scrambled and found Doug Baldwin for a 22-yard completion just over leaping safety Eric Reid.
Despite a 15-yard penalty against Donte Whitner for unnecessary roughness for a hit on tight end Luke Willson, Seattle ended the first quarter with another missed opportunity when NaVorro Bowman got to Wilson for the 49ers' second sack.
49ers quarterback Colin 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 outgained Seattle in total yards 48-34 in the opening 15 minutes as they look to return to the Super Bowl for the second straight year. The reigning NFC champions fell just short last year, 34-31 against the Baltimore Ravens.
Seattle's ineffective first quarter helped silence that typically deafening sellout crowd whipping white towels.
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 already this postseason — lost in its last 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 last two trips, committing seven turnovers.
This marked Kaepernick's first chance with a receiving corps 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.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org