Russell Wilson is out of legs to injure.
He’s finally missed game time because of being hurt.
Yet through a sprained right ankle and now a sprained left knee, Seattle’s most relentlessly standing icon since the Space Needle vows to play on.
“Ultimately, I love the game. I love my teammates. If I got any bit in me that I can do it, I’m going to do everything I can. That’s every play – at all costs,” Wilson said Sunday, following the Seahawks’ 37-18 race past San Francisco at CenturyLink Field that was not that close – but was scary.
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Reduced to a slower, more reachable quarterback due to the ankle he’d sprained two weeks earlier, Wilson had his left knee crumple under him in the third quarter. San Francisco’s Eli Harold grabbed the back of Wilson’s shoulder pads and yanked down Seattle’s franchise cornerstone from behind onto his left leg.
The entire Pacific Northwest gasped.
“My heart dropped,” Seahawks No. 1 wide receiver Doug Baldwin said.
Wilson eventually exited the game, put on a brace and watched undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin throw his first career touchdown pass, a 16-yard strike to Baldwin.
Baldwin’s eight catches for a career-high 164 yards, Christine Michael’s career bests of 20 carries, 106 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns, Jimmy Graham’sfirst touchdown in a year and another dominant Seattle defense against Chip Kelly’s offense led this reviving Seahawks’ rout.
“We needed that – badly,” coach Pete Carroll said.
But Wilson’s latest injury trumps all.
“He’s got a little bit of a knee sprain,” Carroll said. “He’s walking around feeling good about it. He’s half crazy about this stuff. He’s going to just will it to happen.
“Most likely, he’s going to be fine. Just because that’s how he operates.”
Wilson watched the final 21 minutes after finishing 15 for 23 for 243 passing yards with one touchdown and no turnovers.
“Yeah, I’ll take an MRI (exam), but I’ll be good to go,” Wilson said.
Wilson will make the 78th consecutive regular-season and postseason start to begin his career this upcoming Sunday when the Seahawks (2-1) play at the New York Jets (1-2).
“I’m fortunate. I don’t think it’s as severe as it may have looked,” Wilson said of his contorted knee. “Thank God.”
He left after the play, for which Harold got a penalty for a horse-collar tackle. Wilson missed one snap then returned to finish the third-quarter drive. He completed a 10-yard pass to Baldwin on no healthy legs before Steven Hauschka kicked a field goal to put Seattle up 27-3.
Carroll said that had the game been closer, Wilson would have played longer.
Instead, the Seahawks took his helmet away. Wilson spent the final quarter-plus in a cap with a huge, beige wrap over a black brace on his left knee. Meanwhile Boykin, from TCU, threw his first career interception in the fourth quarter.
Boykin’s unexpected first TD throw in the NFL went to Baldwin, when Baldwin rubbed outside off an inside route from teammate Paul Richardson. Boykin raced into the end zone to congratulate Baldwin – and to seek the ball. Wilson told his understudy to secure it forever.
Graham had six catches for 100 yards – all in the first half of his third game since returning from Nov. 29 surgery to repair the torn patellar tendon in his knee. He had two more catches, two more times targeted and 47 more yards than he’s had in the first two games of this season combined.
Graham talked to Seahawks owner Paul Allen after the game, then, while still in full pads, walked into a side room, which was off limits to the media, and didn’t speak publicly.
“Blessed to feel alive again,” Graham tweeted over a photo of his touchdown.
Michael continued looking reborn, too.
He’d played four seasons without an NFL touchdown. He had two in the first 11 minutes against the 49ers.
Michael romped in the first, clearly-leading role of his Seahawks career with Thomas Rawls out due to a bruised leg. Michael had 82 of his yards in the first half.
Michael did it all one week after losing the fumble at the Rams 27 in the final minute after a catch, denying Seattle its last chance at a comeback win at Los Angeles.
“Just hit it. That’s what I did, man,” Michael said.
Carroll again marveled how Michael has gone from Seattle’s entitled, 22-year-old, second-round pick in 2013 to discarded by the team 12 months ago to a mature, professional, 25-year-old father of two. The Seahawks are now trusting their running game to him – at least until Rawls can get healthy again.
“That’s the best quickness we’ve seen on our field,” Carroll said.
“This is a really good story. This is the story about a young guy; it just didn’t work out the first time around. He’s come back and he’s applied himself beautifully. He’s been energetic …
“He just grew up.”
Wilson completed 14 of 19 passes in the first half, for 233 yards and a 132.1 rating.
Until garbage time, the Seahawks’ defense did what it did the previous time it played Kelly’s no-huddle, spread offense, in 2014 at Philadelphia: started in nickel (five defensive backs), mostly stayed in nickel – and throttled Kelly’s unit. The 49ers gained 132 yards through three quarters and had three points, before two late cosmetic touchdown runs by Carlos Hyde. San Francisco’s only first-half points came in the second quarter after Graham fumbled at the end of a catch at the Seattle 30.
Strong safety Kam Chancellor was his most thudding self in two seasons. He knocked tight end Vance McDonald, San Francisco’s biggest weapon in the passing game this early season, out of the game with an early hit. In the third quarter he knocked out McDonald’s backup, Garrett Celek, with a crunching hit in the tight end’s back immediately after a catch. That stopped Celek short of the first down and forced another 49ers punt.
Five of San Francisco’s first nine drives were three-and-outs. San Francisco’s Blaine Gabbert, the NFC’s third-lowest rated passer entering Sunday, completed 14 of 25 passes for 119 yards and an interception by Bobby Wagner.
That was Seattle’s first takeaway this season.
Gabbert had a meager 51.9 passer rating. He ran five times for 22 yards.
Asked about the challenge of trying to contain Gabbert, Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett said: “There is no challenge. He threw for 100 yards.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle