And it wasn’t even close.
“Yeah, I was looking up there,” Gore said with a grin of his regular practice. “I ran all day.”
Gore’s spectacular afternoon single-handedly re-established the run game for San Francisco.
Gore had touchdown runs of 79 and a career-best 80 yards and finished with 207 yards on 16 carries, and the 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks 23-10 to take an early hold atop the NFC West standings.
“I told myself, ‘I’m not looking back,”’ Gore said. “I told myself: ‘Hey, if they’re going to catch me, they’re going to catch me. I’m just going to look straight ahead.”’
Gore, who surpassed San Francisco’s Week 1 rushing total of 21 yards in the first series, nearly reached his franchise mark of 212 yards set in 2006 before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle that wasn’t considered serious. He became only the second player in NFL history to have two TD runs of 79 or more yards in the same game, joining Barry Sanders. Sanders had runs of 80 and 82 yards at Tampa Bay on Oct. 12, 1997.
“Hey, I’m happy. I didn’t know that,” Gore said. “We’re 2-0 in our division. We proved to a lot of people we’re getting better and better.”
Seattle (1-1), coming off a 28-0 season-opening win at St. Louis, took a big blow losing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck(notes) to a rib injury just before halftime following a hard hit near the goal line by Patrick Willis(notes). Hasselbeck didn’t return after completing 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards and no touchdowns.
He was taken to a hospital for X-rays and a CT scan. X-rays were negative while the CT scan was inconclusive and Hasselbeck rejoined his teammates for the 2-hour flight home.
“It is a rib bruise at this point,” coach Jim Mora said. “He’s doing much better … he’s feeling much more comfortable. We believe at this point, and it’s very preliminary, that he’s going to be OK.”
Gore also posted just the third 200-yard rushing game in team history. Charlie Garner ran for 201 yards at Dallas on Sept. 24, 2000. Gore had his 212-yard day Nov. 19, 2006, also at Candlestick Park against Seattle. His 246 total yards from scrimmage Sunday were a career high, topping the 238 he had in that ’06 game with the Seahawks.
Joe Nedney(notes) kicked field goals of 37, 42 and 39 yards for the 49ers. Coach Mike Singletary’s team is off to a 2-0 start after he demanded that his players perform better this week and find their identity as a running team. San Francisco won at defending NFC champion Arizona in Week 1.
The 49ers’ defense was dominant again this week, handing former 49ers defensive coordinator Mora his first loss since taking over this season for Mike Holmgren.
“For us it’s too early to tell anything,” Singletary said. “Last week was ugly, but I loved it. This week was ugly, but I loved it.”
What a difference from Singletary’s debut at Candlestick Park last October, when he took over for the fired Mike Nolan. San Francisco lost to the Seahawks in a game in which he benched quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan(notes) in favor of Hill, pulled his pants down at halftime to make a point and sent volatile tight end Vernon Davis(notes) to the showers early after a personal foul penalty.
This time, Hill was 19 for 26 for 144 yards with no TDs or interceptions and was sacked four times. He improved to 6-0 as a starter at Candlestick and 9-3 overall as an NFL starter. His job was easy: give the ball to Gore.
Gore, who had just 30 yards on 22 carries in the win over the Cardinals, had averaged 76 yards against Seattle in the previous four meetings since his Pro Bowl 2006 season. He ran for 144 yards in the other ’06 game versus Seattle.
“It was just a matter of Frank Gore being Frank Gore,” Seahawks rookie linebacker Aaron Curry(notes) said. “It’s just as simple as that. They gave the right man the ball. He’s one of those guys, he’s going to have your attention. It’s not hard to find him. He runs hard. You can sometimes hear him grunt as he runs.”
Hasselbeck went down for several minutes after getting hurt trying to dive for the end zone 26 seconds before halftime. He was stopped at the 1-yard line.
NOTES: Gore averaged 12.9 yards a carry and the 49ers 8.8. … Seattle LF Sean Locklear(notes), playing in place of the inactive Walter Jones(notes), injured an ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. … San Francisco S Dashon Goldson(notes) had his first career interception late in the third quarter.