Seattle (11-5) appeared to be in position to take a decisive advantage after getting a first down at the one-yard line with 23 seconds remaining, but picked up a delay of game penalty to push the ball back. San Francisco's defense stood strong, denying quarterback Russell Wilson's attempts to put Seattle ahead late, securing the 26-21 win Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
"Every game that we've had lately seemed like it's come down to the last play or two, and this was no different," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo told reporters. "Defense stepped up huge. That was incredible at the end."
The win not only clinched the division for the 49ers (13-3), but also secured a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs for San Francisco. The Seahawks are the No. 5 seed in the NFC and face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card round.
Garoppolo completed 18 of 22 passes for 285 yards in the win, but did not throw a touchdown pass for the 49ers. Raheem Mostert had 57 yards and two scores on 10 carries in the win. Deebo Samuel had 102 yards on five catches for San Francisco.
Wilson completed 25 of 40 passes for 233 yards and two scores in the loss. Marshawn Lynch had 34 yards and a score on 12 carries for Seattle. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett caught Wilson's touchdown tosses.
"It was a wild one," Wilson said. "We had several different opportunities. We tried to make a play, sure enough we came half inch short there unfortunately.
"But I thought it was an amazing game. I mean, I think just the back and forth, back and forth, offensively, defensively. Both teams, great teams going after it."
The 49ers led 13-0 at halftime after two Robbie Gould field goals and a Samuel rushing score. The Seahawks cut the San Francisco lead to six points when Wilson found Lockett with a 14-yard touchdown toss in the third quarter. The 49ers answered with a Mostert rushing score on the next drive.
Seattle responded with a 14-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped off with a one-yard Lynch touchdown run. San Francisco responded with another Mostert rushing score, pushing their lead to 26-14 with 5:55 remaining.
Wilson hooked up with Metcalf on a 14-yard touchdown pass on the next drive, trimming the 49ers' lead to five points with 3:40 remaining.
The Seahawks then forced a 49ers punt, before using a long drive to march down to the San Francisco one-yard line. Wilson spiked the ball on first down the stop the clock. Seattle was then called for the delay of game penalty, pushing the ball back to the San Francisco five-yard line.
Wilson threw two consecutive incompletions before hitting Jacob Hollister with a short pass down over the middle. Hollister was tackled just short of the end zone, ending the game and giving a win to the 49ers.
"We just didn't function well enough," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of the penalty. "That's me all the way. There's nobody else to turn to. We need to get that done. The mentality of the kill the clock thing, sometimes it happens; we've talked about it numbers of times.
"But, you kind of take a pause like it's a time out, which it wasn't."
The Seahawks travel for their Wild Card matchup against the Eagles at 4:40 p.m. EST Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The 49ers begin their postseason run at 4:35 p.m. EST Jan. 11 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.