Pete Carroll thoroughly enjoyed his return to the NFL, and so did his Seattle Seahawks.
Matt Hasselbeck threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Seahawks gave their new coach a 31-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Coaching his first NFL game in 11 years, Carroll stalked the sideline, marching up and down almost constantly in motion. The only times he stood still was giving congratulations to his players as they came off the field.
And there was plenty to give.
The Seahawks put their offense on Hasselbeck’s arm and the veteran quarterback delivered. After throwing an interception on Seattle’s first play and running just seven plays for 11 yards in the first 1 1/2 quarters, Hasselbeck completed 10 of his next 11 throws.
He finished 18 of 23 for 170 yards and touchdowns of 13 yards to Deon Butler and 3 yards to Deion Branch. He also bootlegged and sprinted for a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter that gave Seattle a 7-6 lead.
Jordan Babineaux and Marcus Trufant each intercepted San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith. Trufant returned his interception 32 yards for a touchdown early in the second half to give the Seahawks a 21-6 lead.
Smith started 9 of 10 passing, then missed 12 of his next 21 throws. The questions of how in sync San Francisco’s offense would be considering both Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis and second-year receiver Michael Crabtree missed the entire unbeaten preseason, were raised again.
Crabtree looked at Smith after the pair failed to connect on two throws in the third quarter, the second returned by Trufant for the first regular season touchdown of his career.
Smith finished 26 of 45 for 225 yards. Davis had eight catches for 73 yards a day after signing a five-year extension with San Francisco.
The 49ers were the trendy pick to win the NFC West, but have trouble winning on the road. Last year, they lost six straight road games – five in a row by a combined 19 points – before winning at St. Louis. That stretch included a 20-17 loss at Seattle in early December in which the Niners gave the game away late.
This time, there was nothing for the 49ers to give away late.
Twice in the first half San Francisco was stopped inside the Seattle 10, coming away with just three points in the two possessions. Smith’s poorly thrown pass for a wide open Moran Norris at the goal line on fourth down stopped the 49ers first attempt. On San Francisco’s next possession, the 49ers took a delay of game penalty at the Seattle 1 having already burned through their first half time outs.
Joe Nedney’s second short field goal gave San Francisco a 6-0 lead. But following Nedney’s kick, the 49ers ran three plays or less on five of their next six possessions. Frank Gore, who averaged nearly 150 yards against the Seahawks since 2006, was held to just 38 yards on 17 carries.
Seattle’s offense started clicking only after Nate Clements defensive holding call on Branch gave the Seahawks their initial first down midway through the second quarter. Four plays later, Hasselbeck hit Mike Williams on a 35-yard pump-and-go to the San Francisco 1 and Hasselbeck sprinted in on the next play, diving over the pylon.