49ers top play No. 2
Ok, you caught us. But with your indulgence, we’re going to cheat a bit with the 49ers’ No. 2 top play of the year. Without the first of the following two plays, the second would have never occurred — so we’re giving you a special-teams two-for-one for the 49ers’ second-best play of 2018.
Just two weeks after suffering a blowout loss in Seattle, the 49ers entered Week 15 with a 10-game losing streak to their NFC West rivals. When the Seahawks forced a punt on the 49ers’ opening drive, and then quickly drove down the field for a touchdown, the teams’ second meeting was well on its way to becoming a repeat of their previous encounter.
But James would have none of that. After catching the ensuing kickoff, the rookie wideout and kick returner rocketed through the Seahawks’ coverage unit — and right by Seattle kicker Sebastian Janikowski — into the end zone for a touchdown that shifted the entire momentum of the contest:
James’ kick return lit a fire under the team on both sides of the ball. San Francisco’s offense began to move the ball down the field with relative ease, while the 49ers’ defensive unit — particularly defensive tackle DeForest Buckner — flew around the field making plays.
San Francisco played their rivals to a tie during regulation, before their defense forced a three-and-out on Seattle’s opening drive in overtime. The 49ers proceeded to run the ball down the Seahawks’ throat, and then brought kicker Robbie Gould on for a game-winning field-goal try.
Gould’s kick wasn’t an amazing play on its own, but it was one of the San Francisco 49ers’ most meaningful plays over the past few seasons, as the Niners snapped their losing streak to Seattle while keeping their rivals from clinching a playoff berth on San Francisco’s home turf: