David Akers made four field goals to give him 42 this season, most in league history, and the San Francisco 49ers eliminated Seattle from postseason contention by holding off the Seahawks 19-17 on Saturday.
The NFC West champions remained in position for the No. 2 playoff seed and a first-round bye thanks to Akers and a stout second-half effort on defense.
“I thought it was, like I said, a real good preview for what the playoffs are going to be like,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Overcoming adversity. Nobody flinched. We had some real difficult situations, you know, some real pressure-to-perform situations, and our guys performed.”
Akers took his place in NFL record books, but it was Larry Grant, Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree who made the big plays that improved San Francisco to 12-3 in Harbaugh’s first season in charge.
With the Seahawks fighting to stay alive in the playoff race, San Francisco impressively had to rally multiple times. The 49ers overcame a 17-16 deficit after Marshawn Lynch scored on a 4-yard TD run with 6:41 left and was showered with candy.
Akers’ 39-yard field goal with 2:57 left proved to be the game-winner — but it was Grant who was the game-clincher. As the Seahawks (7-8) tried to drive for the winning score, Grant’s tackle of quarterback Tarvaris Jackson from behind jarred the ball loose and it was recovered by Donte Whitnerat the San Francisco 36 with 1:07 remaining.
Filling in for injured Patrick Willis, the standout linebacker who missed his third straight game with a hamstring injury, Grant missed Jackson on his initial blitz, only to come from behind and strip the QB for the only turnover of the game.
“He doesn’t tuck it at all, he keeps it loose and keeps his eyes downfield,” Grant said. “Knowing he does that, when you’re coming from behind the first thought is you’ve got to rake for the ball.”
The stingy San Francisco defense limited the Seahawks to 72 total yards in the second half and Seattle’s only points came following a blocked punt.