“Your boy just wanted to get some legs,” Lynch said.
Regardless of how much he had been training, building endurance and simulating contact, it was unreasonable to expect him to emerge as Seattle’s lead back after having not played in nearly 15 months: Just two weeks ago, he was dispensing tequila shots in the parking lots outside the Raiders’ stadium in Oakland, Calif., his hometown, before their final home game there.
Then again, a week ago the Seahawks had two healthy running backs, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise, and an imposing left tackle, Duane Brown. A week ago, the Seahawks were barreling toward a potential No. 1 seed. Then they lost all three players, and the game, to Arizona, demanding they recalibrate.
Which last week they did almost immediately, summoning Lynch for a physical, and which Sunday night they did almost immediately again, opening the second half with three consecutive scoring drives. Lynch fueled the first, with a 15-yard burst, and punctuated the second, with a 1-yard touchdown, after which he shook hands with teammates whose names he might not have known.
The problem for Seattle, though, resembled that which has bedeviled the N.F.L. all season, and just might continue to do so during the playoffs: The 49ers do not surrender.
Coach Kyle Shanahan often tells players after absurd victories that he didn’t think they would win, and in this joyful season, unlike any they have experienced across the last six years, the San Francisco 49ers have triumphed in the slop at Washington, amid earsplitting cacophony in New Orleans and the din of Seattle. This month alone, they have won twice on the final play and lost twice on the final play.
On Sunday, they got a reprieve: A full nine seconds remained when Greenlaw stuffed Hollister. They had to wait, yes, but after eight years of despair here, it was worth it.
“I don’t know if it’s a ‘Here we go again type’ thing,” right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “I mean, you definitely wish we would stop doing that. But you have to win them how you win them. This team is built for stuff like that and the people that are here are built for things like that.”