October 16 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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As 49ers Paradise predicted, Monday nights game was an all out dog fight with both coaches, Mariucci and Holmgren throwing some great punches. It was a 99-yard drive however, delivered by Mariucci that was the knock out punch. The sustained drive was the 49ers longest of the year, and it was only the second 99-yard drive of the season. The intense chess match between the two head coaches that know each other like the back of their hands. Each coach trying to one up each other, this was easily the best Monday night game of the short season.
The 49ers got off to a very hot start. They went up 10-0 after a opening drive field goal and a touchdown off of a Zack Bronson interception. It didn’t take long for the Seahawks to wake up, and put 14 points on the board though. The 49ers responded with their second field goal of the game, which was answered by the Seahawks third and final touchdown of the game. The 49ers then scored 15 unanswered points including a two point conversion to cap their final touchdown.
The 49ers benefited from some early great play by receiver Tai Streets, who, had he managed to stay in bounds on a pass route, would have had a career day. Cederick Wilson had a circus catch too, and James Jordan was activated from the practice squad to fill out the 49ers receiving core that was lacking JJ Stokes. Though Jeff Garcia only threw for about 200 yards, the offense looked more efficient than in the past, and it stretched the field for really the first time this season.
The biggest defensive miscue was the inability to stop the Seattle offense from attacking the middle of the field. The result was that the 49ers couldn’t stop Seattle on third down. The 49ers also allowed their first punt return of the season. After harping on the problems with the special teams all season, maybe the 49ers will finally listen and try and improve in this area.
The 49ers victory was not without cost though. The team suffered three first half injuries that will affect the rest of the season. First the team lost John Engelberger, who may be able to play this week against the Saints, if not the team give Sean Moran a chance. The team believes that Terry Jackson tore his MCL which could put him out for the season if the MRI results confirm the team’s suspicions. The biggest blow however came when Zack Bronson broke his foot. The 49ers are already thin at safety, having only three players at the position, and with Ronnie Heard hurting too. The 49ers will likely activate John Keith from the practice squad to help fill out this area.
Overall it was a tough road victory and one that really was a gut-check for the team. They certainly didn’t play that well, being penalized repeatedly and unable to stop the ‘Hawks on third downs. Still the team elevated its play when the game was on the line, and with a tough victory began what could turn into a great NFC West rivalry.