By Brent Stecker
The 49ers had designs on re-establishing themselves as the NFC West's dominant team Sunday night and putting last year's dismal loss to the Seahawks in Seattle behind them. Instead, they put forth their worst offensive performance in the Colin Kaepernick era.
The 49ers managed just a field goal and turned the ball over five times in a 29-3 defeat to Seattle, and they compounded their 207 yards of total offense by racking up 12 penalties for 121 yards. The poor numbers are rivaled only by their 42-13 loss in Seattle last season, which was one of only two regular-season defeats in Kaepernick's career as a starter entering 2013.
"I don't think any of us are real proud of our performance tonight," 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "They played very well. We didn't play nearly good enough. That's what took place."
Kaepernick had an especially rough night, failing to get the 49ers into the end zone, losing a fumble and throwing three interceptions, which equals his entire 2012 regular-season total. Even though the 49ers were matched up against one of the NFL's premier defenses, Kaepernick said he and his team shouldered the blame for its lack of punch.
"We are not going to win games if I play like that," he said. "I don't think it was anything they did. We didn't come out and perform. We didn't make plays we normally do."
Sunday's loss was a week removed from a strong 34-28 win over Green Bay, a game in which Kaepenick connected with new top receiver Anquan Boldin 13 times for 208 yards and a touchdown. The duo didn't have anywhere near that kind of success against Seattle – Boldin was held to one reception for seven yards, and that didn't come until the game was out of reach late in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't execute the way we should have across the board," Boldin said. "It wasn't nothing that they did. It was us not executing, point blank."
Boldin, who was defended by Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman for much of the game, had some thoughts on the style of play from Seattle's secondary, however.
"If you can get away with some stuff, then you continue to do it," he said.
The 49ers did show the ability to move the ball at times in the second half, but penalties and turnovers derailed any chance for continued momentum.
"Any time you get a lot of penalties, one after another, they can cost you the game," said tight end Vernon Davis, who had just 20 yards receiving on three catches. "We really have to just think about those things next game, get them corrected, because we can't have those. They cost us the game and possibly cost us the season ... It's just a game where we acted instead of thinking, so we have to think first and then act."
The penalties could be attributed to the noise of CenturyLink Stadium (especially on a night when it set a Guinness world record), but Davis wouldn't credit the crowd with causing the loss.
"This is a loud stadium. Very, very loud ... But I'm not gonna put that on the simple fact that we lost the game," he said. "I think the reason was (that we) just missed some things – some missed assignments, mistakes, penalties."
"It makes it hard for the offense to communicate," Harbaugh said. "They do a good job. It's loud."