Rawls big night leads Seahawks past 49ers, 29-13
SEATTLE (AP) Thomas Rawls is not a big stats guy. When it came to recalling the last time he rushed for 200 yards in a game, all Rawls could remember was that it happened at Central Michigan.
''I am not really big on my numbers like that,'' Rawls said. ''I am pretty sure people back home can vouch for me.''
But the Seattle rookie did understand the enormity of what he accomplished on Sunday, rushing for 209 yards and scoring two touchdowns in the Seahawks' 29-13 win over San Francisco.
The Seahawks got back to .500 on a day they got help from others in staying in the middle of the NFC playoff race and perhaps received even more evidence that Rawls could be the workhorse running back to take over whenever Marshawn Lynch's time in that role ends.
Rawls may be getting that chance sooner than expected. Lynch was an unexpected inactive for Sunday's game because of an abdominal injury that he played through a week ago against Arizona but could not go against the 49ers. Lynch is traveling to Philadelphia on Monday to meet with Dr. William Meyers, a specialist in lower abdominal injuries, to try to determine what exactly is going on.
All options for treatment are open including surgery, meaning Seattle could end up relying on Rawls for the final stretch.
''This will be a really important couple of days for (Lynch),'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.
When given enough carries, Rawls has shown he can be successful despite being an undrafted rookie. Four times this season Rawls has gotten more than 10 carries. In three of those four games he's topped 100 yards.
Against the 49ers, Rawls was at his best. He broke tackles, made correct reads, cut back when the lanes where open and most importantly set an early tone when he decided to run through and not around San Francisco cornerback Tramaine Brock.
Rawls ran for a 2-yard TD on Seattle's second drive, then gave the Seahawks a 29-13 lead with 12:32 remaining on a 31-yard catch-and-run pass out of the backfield. Rawls caught the rollout throw from Wilson, stiff-armed Michael Wilhoite and raced for the first receiving touchdown of his career.
Rawls became just the third running back in Seahawks history to top 200 yards in a game and trailed only Shaun Alexander's 266-yard game in 2001 in franchise history. He's the third running back in the NFL this season to go over 200 yards, joining Doug Martin (235) and Adrian Peterson (203).
And in case he needed a reminder, it was the best game for Rawls since running for 270 yards last year at Central Michigan against Northern Illinois.
Here's what else to know from Seattle's fifth straight win over the 49ers:
GABBERT GROWTH: Yes, Blaine Gabbert and the San Francisco offense struggled badly for the first 28 minutes. The 49ers gained just 38 yards on its first four drives.
But Gabbert got the 49ers moving late in the first half and played well against one of the best defenses in the league. Gabbert finished 22 of 34 for 264 yards and led two drives in the third quarter inside the Seattle 10 only to be forced to kick field goals each time.
''I'm not into moral victories but that was encouraging,'' San Francisco coach Jim Tomsula said.
THE OTHER ROOKIE: Seattle wide receiver Tyler Lockett is only going to get more involved in Seattle's pass game.
Drafted to be a returner, Lockett's becoming a bigger factor as a receiver. Lockett had four catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers. Lockett broke free from man coverage for a 24-yard TD in the first quarter and later carried a defender into the end zone on an 11-yard TD.
TIGHT END TROUBLE: Seattle continues to have problems finding the right defense against tight ends. Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek combined for six catches for 100 yards and the 49ers only touchdown. McDonald had a 36-yard catch and Celek had a 33-yard reception as the Seahawks continue to give up big plays down the seam to tight ends.
''As well as we're playing the run sometimes those are the hardest guys to defend because things are happening fast in the run game,'' Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said. ''It's just things you need to recognize sometimes, but we'll get it cleaned up.''
BOWMAN'S RETURN: San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman returned to the site of his awful knee injury suffered in the 2013 NFC Championship game and caused him to miss the 2014 season. Bowman had nine tackles and most importantly stayed healthy.
''It was a blessing for me to get back out here,'' he said.
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