SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers sure have a knack for leaving tough losses behind.
They’ve never lost two games in a row under the reigning NFL Coach of the Year.
This time, the 49ers had all of four days and no choice but to forget in a hurry; first place in the NFC West was on the line.
Alex Smith threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker late in the third quarter and San Francisco held off the Seattle Seahawks 13-6 Thursday night to give the 49ers a victory in their long-awaited division opener.
“Coming off a loss, we wanted to go out there and get that mojo back,” linebacker Patrick Willis said. “We never lost it, but at the same time, you never want to lose a game. It’s a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. We just knew we had to come out and play great football against this team tonight.”
It wasn’t all that pretty, but that hardly matters to the Niners.
They’re alone in first place — for now.
“You lose, you move on and you get ready for your next opponent,” defensive tackle Justin Smith said. “It just happened to be Seattle, who’s in our division.”
Frank Gore ran for 131 yards and the 49ers (5-2) hung tough on defense late in a game featuring two teams allowing fewer than 16 points per game.
Alex Smith went 14 of 23 for 140 yards in a second straight subpar performance.
Walker’s score was San Francisco’s first touchdown in seven quarters after an embarrassing 26-3 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday in a lopsided rematch of the NFC championship game.
NFC rushing leader Marshawn Lynch finished with 103 yards for Seattle (4-3).
It’s now Harbaugh 3, Pete Carroll 0 since these coaching rivals started facing off in the NFL last year after all those memorable moments in the college game.
“That was the most physical 30 minutes of football in the second half that I have ever seen our football team play,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a sweet win. It was a real football fight, and our guys won it.”
The 49ers improved to 5-0 after regular-season defeats since Harbaugh took over before last season.