Atop the considerably sized left shoulder of 49ers safety Donte Whitner was a noticeable amount of blood, just pooled up and sitting there.
There didn’t appear to be an open cut. The blood wasn’t flowing. It was just present. This wasn’t an injury, per se. It was a wound, like, after 60 merciless minutes of a 19-17 victory over the archrival Seattle Seahawks, his body was just too worn out to keep all essential fluids inside of it.
Whitner stood in front of his locker, stretched his neck to take a look at it and just shrugged.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It looks like something. I have a couple on my legs too … I’m busted up. I feel like I played linebacker.”
There are no easy games in the NFL. There are no postgame locker rooms without bruised and beaten men. That’s the sport. That’s the business.
Yet Sunday the NFL’s most intense rivalry arrived here and with it came another level of physicality, intensity and, indeed, brutality. Adding to the nastiness was cold, raw and unrelenting weather.
Neither team is particularly fond of the other, so each yard was contested through the whistle. From there it often continued with a barrage of verbiage not fit for families or, perhaps, even NFL referees, who threw flags for what they heard.
“Tough game,” Niners running back Frank Gore said. “Tough game.”
“Real physical,” Seahawks tight end Zach Miller agreed.
“This was an emotional game,” San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis said.
It was also a near-essential game for the 49ers and not just to get them to 9-4 and maintain an inside track in the NFC wild-card chase. This was about the renewed confidence of beating an excellent club – which the Niners’ résumé sort-of lacked. It was about peeling back the veneer of invincibility the now 11-2 Seahawks were carrying. It was about reminding Seattle that even if the divisional crown is all but assured to go north, the Niners are still throwing punches.
–Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
Marcel Reece made his first start of the season at running back Sunday against the Jets. And he made the most of it.
Reece, forced to switch from fullback because of injuries to Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden, carried 19 times for 123 yards. He also caught two passes for 38 yards.
And he provided the Raiders’ top offensive highlight by bursting through the line and outrunning the Jets’ defensive backs for a 63-yard touchdown to start the third quarter. It looked as though Reece might change the momentum of the game. But he didn’t.
“None of those stats matter if we lose,” Reece said. “It’s irrelevant.”
Indeed, Reece’s touchdown run quickly became irrelevant when his team’s defense allowed the Jets to march down the field and score another touchdown, putting New York back up by 17 points.
–Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle
Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers coach, compared Sunday’s game to experiencing a three-hour root canal. If so, then Frank Gore was the dentist’s drill.
And fortunately, he saved his most spectacular drilling for the most crucial moment.
It was your classic Seahawks emergency situation. The 49ers trailed by a point to their biggest rivals. The clock was winding down in the fourth quarter. The goal line was 69 yards away. The withering hand-to-hand combat at the line of scrimmage was yielding little open space.
Who you gonna call?
“Frank,” said 49ers lineman Adam Snyder. “He runs to daylight. All you’ve got to do is give him a little opening. An inch. And he’s going to take it.”
It is not enough to say that Frank Gore is the 49ers’ Mr. Necessary or Mr. Reliable. Gore is something beyond all that in the team’s offense, no matter how much the coaching staff has tried to soup up things with quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his merry band of receivers. At crunch time, with the 49ers offensive line giving him breathing room, Gore is the man who gives the team winning oxygen.
Sunday, that happened on a first-down play at the 49ers’ 31-yard line. Gore was handed the ball on a standard pulling-guard play designed to go left — but instead saw a bunch of daylight to his right after crossing the line of scrimmage. So he cut that way. Gore didn’t stop running for 51 more yards.
Minutes later, Phil Dawson kicked the winning field goal in a 19-17 victory that the 49ers needed — if nothing else, just to keep their single-game edge over Arizona for the last playoff spot as well as in the NFC West, the Division of Death.
–Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News