for this game

Niners retire Rice's number, beat Seahawks

Nov 20, 2006 - 12:20 AM SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) -- Mike Nolan was dressed for success on the day that the San Francisco 49ers honored Jerry Rice.

With his coach roaming the sidelines decked out in a suit, Frank Gore rushed for a franchise-record 212 yards to lead the 49ers to a 20-14 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in a battle of NFC West rivals.

Nolan conjured up memories of legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi by donning a black suit to go along with a red tie.

"I do want to make a point about that (the suit)," Nolan said. "The reason I do it is to honor my Father (Dick) and the other coaches that have done it before. I think it's a respectful thing to do in the league. I really hope they allow me to continue to do it."

Nolan's team looked just as sharp in building a 20-0 halftime lead against the defending NFC champions.

At halftime, the Niners retired the No. 80 jersey of Rice, who was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams and possesses dozens of NFL records, including career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895) and receiving touchdowns (197). Many former Niners greats were on hand, including quarterback Steve Young and safety Ronnie Lott.

The Niners (5-5) nearly spoiled the celebration with a mistake-filled second half before holding on to secure their first three-game winning streak since 2002.

"Our goal at the beginning of the season was not to win just five games," Nolan said. "We've won five, but that's not our goal. We take them won at a time and we'll continue to do that. It will always be about winning, it continues to be about winning, and that's all the better. We talk about streaks. We've got a three-game winning streak and we need to continue to build on that."

San Francisco also pulled within a game of Seattle (6-4) for first place in the NFC West.

Gore set the tone early, rushing for 130 yards in the first half en route to surpassing Charlie Garner's franchise mark of 201 yards at Dallas on September 25, 2000.

"It felt good. O-line, fullback, wide receivers, they did a hell of a job blocking up front and down the field," Gore said. "I'm just happy. We worked hard all week at practice. We're on a winning streak, three games in a row. We've just got to keep playing."

Gore also lost a fumble with less than two minutes remaining after the Niners stopped Shaun Alexander for a one-yard loss on a 4th-and-1 play from the Seattle 37.

But two plays later, cornerback Walt Harris took Gore off the hook by intercepting a pass by Seneca Wallace.

"Bottom line with the defense, when you get turnovers you do fairly well," Harris said. "The momentum was definitely with us and guys stepped up. It was good to have that on defense."

Returning after missing the last six games with a cracked bone in his left foot, Alexander - the reigning MVP - was limited to 37 rushing yards on 17 attempts.

Wallace threw for two touchdowns but also was intercepted three times for the Seahawks, who had an 11-game winning streak against divisional foes stopped.

"I didn't play well enough for us to win the ballgame," said Wallace, who could be headed back to the bench next week when Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck returns from a knee injury. "The picks were all my fault. The receivers got open, but I didn't get them the ball. W e had opportunities in the second half, but I couldn't take advantage."

"I thought we played a very poor first half of the football game," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "The second half we played better, but couldn't make up enough ground. I'm disappointed in our energy, our tempo... everything in the first half."

Wallace, who completed 19-of-31 yards for 252 yards, threw a 38-yard pass to Deion Branch less than three minutes into the third quarter to pull the Seahawks within 20-7.

Branch finished with seven catches for 113 yards.

Wallace brought the Seahawks within 20-14 with 6:40 remaining with a beautifully thrown 41-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson.

After Joe Nedney kicked a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter, Alex Smith extended the margin to 10-0 with a nine-yard TD pass to Arnaz Battle with 10:11 left in the second quarter.

"It felt good, a team like Seattle, who went to the Super Bowl and is number one in our division, we manhandled them in the first half," Battle said. "We missed a few points here and there, but the defense played great, special teams came through, and the offense moved the ball. We couldn't ask for a better first half."

Smith also scored on a one-yard TD at the 4:14 mark to make it 17-0.

"We are a young team that is trying to find our identity. We have been building our identity for the last three weeks," Smith said. "To come off the Chicago game (41-0 loss) and put together this little streak is a good sign. To beat last years NFC champion is big for us."

It was an efficient performance for Smith, who completed 19-of-25 passes for 163 yards.

Nedney kicked an 18-yard field goal as time expired in the half.

The game featured a return to San Francisco for linebacker Julian Peterson, who signed a seven-year contract worth $54 million with the Seahawks after spending his first six seasons with the Niners.

Peterson, who had two tackles, heaped praise on Gore.

"I believe he's going to be one of the best backs in the league in the next couple of years," Peterson said. "Gore finds little holes and explodes through them. He takes advantage of what the defense gives him. He makes a lot of big plays, and you saw that today."

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