Matt Hasselbeck threw for two touchdowns and added another score on the ground, as Seattle defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31-6, in Pete Carroll’s debut as the Seahawks’ new head coach.
Hasselbeck was 18-of-23 for 170 yards with one interception for Seattle (1-0), which finished 5-11 last season.
Carroll spent his previous nine seasons in the college ranks as USC’s head coach. He had amassed a combined 33-31 record with the New York Jets (1994) and New England Patriots (1997-99) before winning seven Pac-10 titles and a pair of national championships with the Trojans.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith completed 26-of-45 passes for 225 yards with two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Marcus Trufant.
The 49ers (0-1) avoided a seventh consecutive losing season by going 8-8 a year ago.
It was an unsettling start to the season for Hasselbeck, who was picked off on the game’s first play from scrimmage. Cornerback Nate Clements returned the ball to the Seattle 29, and Smith had an eight-yard TD pass to Josh Morgan overturned by video replay. Joe Nedney hit a 23-yard field goal to give the visitors the early lead.
San Francisco came away with only six points despite making three consecutive trips inside the red zone. The 49ers’ next drive extended into the second quarter and the Seattle defense stopped them on 4th-and-1 from the six.
After Seattle went three-and-out, Nedney drilled another 23-yarder with 6:23 remaining in the second quarter.
“When you are on the road and have opportunities, you have to capitalize and we did not,” said San Francisco head coach Mike Singletary.
The Seahawks’ offense finally awoke, scoring two touchdowns in a span of 59 seconds to take a 14-6 lead to the half.
Hasselbeck reached the end zone on a one-yard plunge along left sideline with 2:26 remaining. Smith was then intercepted by Jordan Babineaux and the safety returned the ball to the San Francisco 13. Hasselbeck hooked up with Deon Butler for a scoring strike on the next play.
Smith was intercepted on the first drive of the second half and Trufant’s 32- yard return made it 21-6.
Then the Seahawks drove 60 yards in seven plays, ending with a three-yard TD pass from Hasselbeck to Deion Branch.
Olindo Mare tacked on a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
“We never panicked (following the slow start). We always said, ‘Stick to the plan.’ We did and we were successful in the end,” Hasselbeck said.
The 49ers were 1-for-15 on third downs…San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis caught eight passes for 73 yards…The 49ers were the only team to go undefeated in the preseason…Seattle has won five of the last seven meetings.