SEATTLE (AP) – Alex Smith’s fourth-quarter play was reminiscent of former San Francisco quarterbacks.

Keeping the 49ers’ slim playoff hopes alive, Smith threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes and San Francisco prevented the Seattle Seahawks from clinching the NFC West with a surprising 24-14 win Thursday night.

Smith threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis early in the fourth, then capped a 10-play, 73-yard drive with a 20-yard TD pass to Frank Gore with 4:01 left that sent wet – and shocked – Seahawks’ fans for the exits.

One play after a delay-of-game penalty on third-and-1, Smith stepped out of Kelly Herndon’s grasp, scrambled and found Gore behind defense at the goal line. San Francisco’s players erupted into celebration, as the 49ers (6-8) broke a three-game losing streak and swept both games from Seattle.

If that wasn’t enough, Smith faked the entire Seattle defense and jogged 18 yards for a touchdown with 1:42 left to cap a night when he looked more like Steve Young and Joe Montana than first-round draft busts of the past.

Seattle (8-6) lost its second straight divisional game, ending any hopes of getting a first-round bye in the playoffs and the performance only added to the questions about the Seahawks inconsistent play.

Smith finished 14-of-25 for 162 yards, a far cry from the first half when the former No. 1 draft pick was 5-of-12 for 38 yards and the 49ers best offensive play was a 33-yard run on a fake punt.

It was Smith’s completion to Antonio Bryant late in the third quarter that finally got the 49ers offense untracked.

Smith’s 11-yard completion to Bryant with 48 seconds left in the quarter was San Francisco’s first first-down of the half. On the next play, Arnaz Battle beat Herndon off the line of scrimmage and Smith hit him in stride for a 54-yard completion.

Smith later scrambled 8 yards for a first-down and hit Battle for 13 yards on third-and-10 at the Seattle 22. Two plays later Smith rolled right, Davis got separation from safety Jordan Babineaux, and Smith threw a perfect strike.

“The boy just became a grown man today, baby,” Gore said of his quarterback. “A there’s a lot more to come.”

With Smith finding holes in Seattle’s secondary, Gore put the game away. Gore, who ran for a franchise record 212 yards in the first meeting between the two teams, had 104 of his 144 yards in the fourth quarter.

“As we kept going at it, we just wore them down,” he said.

Matt Hasselbeck threw 22-yard touchdown to Jerramy Stevens with 9 seconds left, for the final margin, but Hasselbeck was outplayed by Smith and Shaun Alexander never found holes to run.

Hasselbeck finished 20-of-37 for 220 yards, but threw a pair of interceptions, the most damaging on the first possession of the second half.

On second-and-11 at the San Francisco 20, Hasselbeck tried to hit D.J. Hackett on a seem route in the end zone. Instead, 49ers’ safety Mark Roman stepped in front of Hackett and intercepted the pass, returning it to the 27.

Seattle’s offense threatened only once more before Stevens’ touchdown. Alexander and Mack Strong were both stopped needing just one yard with 9:37 left, turning the ball over on downs and causing coach Mike Holmgren to flail his arms on the sideline in disgust.

Alexander was held to 73 yards, 40 coming on Seattle’s first quarter scoring drive, capped by a 3-yard plunge by Alexander, just his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.

Joe Nedney kicked a 39-yard field goal with 3 seconds left in the first half.

AP-ES-12-14-06 2346EST


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