QB Russell Wilson recovered from a grim career first — an interception on his first pass of a game — to throw two touchdown passes and run for another as the Seahawks pulled away from the San Francisco 49ers in the second half for a 24-13 victory, avoiding the ignominy of losing to a 1-9 team starting a rookie quarterback (box).
The second-place Seahawks improved to 7-4 but made up no ground on the NFC West leaders, the Los Angeles Rams (8-3), who knocked off New Orleans, 26-20.
Wilson recovered from his gaffe — “that play just kind of got away from him,” said Pete Carroll — to run two yards for a TD in the second quarter, a play set up by LB Bobby Wagner’s spectacular strip of a bobbled pass to steal the ball.
Wilson then threw second-half TD passes of 17 yards to TE Nick Vannett and one yard to TE Jimmy Graham to keep Seattle in the hunt for a playoff spot. They are seventh in the current six-team field.
The key sequence was midway through the third quarter. With Seattle leading 7-6, Wilson hit WR Doug Baldwin for 23 yards on 3rd-and-9 and WR Tanner McEvoy for 24 on 1st-and-10. That set up the TD to Vannett, his career-first score.
In the final minute after Beathard departed with a leg injury following a hit by DE Michael Bennett, the 49ers inserted recently acquired Jimmy Garoppolo (from New England). He tossed a TD on the last play of the game, the 49ers’ first touchdown of the season against Seattle.
Wilson had a miserable first half statistically, completing eight of 19 for 80 yards and the pick. Four of his passes were dropped, including two by Graham. The drops killed his passer rating, which was 32.3 over the first two quarters.
But Wilson connected on 12 of 15 in the second half and finished 20 of 34 for 228 yards and an 86.4 rating, still below his career average of 99.1. His second-half rating: 147.7.
Wilson has 150 TD passes, No. 4 all-time in the first six years of a player’s career. Wilson trails Dan Marino (196), Peyton Manning (167) and Matt Ryan (153).
Wilson’s rushing TD in the second quarter was his third of the season. He had a career-high six in 2014 and has 16 rushing career TDs. He had 253 of Seattle’s 318 yards of offense, or 79.6 percent of the team’s scrimmage yards.
Graham has eight TDs in his past seven games after none in Seattle’s first four. Graham became Seattle’s all-time TD leader by a tight end in a single season.
Paul Richardson led with four catches for 70 yards. Baldwin was curiously missing with only two catches for 25.
Because of Wilson’s big second half, the Seahawks accumulated 318 total yards to San Francisco’s 280. The Seahawks had 90 yards rushing, 46 by RB Eddie Lacy on 18 carries. Wilson had 25 yards and J.D. McKissic 22. But Thomas Rawls, active for the game, did not get a carry.
Blair Walsh, who missed a game-tying 52-yard field goal Monday that could have sent the Atlanta game into overtime, missed a 48-yarder on his first attempt Sunday, but later made a 34-yarder.
Wagner’s pick in the second quarter was his second of the season. He also had eight tackles (seven solo), a pass defensed and two quarterback hits among the 13 by Seattle’s defense.
SS Bradley McDougald also had eight tackles (six solo) while DT Sheldon Richardson had six and FS Earl Thomas five.
The Seahawks held Beathard to a 61.4 passer rating and limited San Francisco to 84 yards rushing, 47 by Carlos Hyde, who scorched the Seahawks for 124 in week 2.
Seattle recorded three sacks and six tackles for loss.
The Seahawks, who improved their NFC West record to 4-0, swept the season series with the 49ers and have beaten their Bay Area rivals nine consecutive times . . . Seattle leads the all-time series with San Francisco 23-15 . . . The Seahawks are 23-14-1 in 38 road games dating to 2013 . . . Seattle is also 34-11 in November and December since 2012 . . . Wilson has 63 regular-season wins, most in NFL history by a player in his first six seasons . . . Wilson was tied with Joe Flacco . . . Seattle has won four in a row at Levi’s Stadium . . . Wilson improved to 11-2 all-time against San Francisco, including playoffs . . . Penalized in excess of 100 yards for five consecutive games, an NFL post-merger record, the Seahawks were docked for 35 yards on six flags . . . TE Luke Willson left the game in the first quarter to be evaluated for a concussion and did not return. Carroll reported Willson was lucid on the sidelines indicated Willson could be back soon.
The Seahawks return to CenturyLink Field Sunday (5:30 p.m., NBC) against the Philadelphia Eagles, the NFC East leaders (10-1) who have a nine-game winning streak after beating Chicago 31-3 Sunday. Philadelphia has won its past three by 28 or more points.