Frank Clark stormed down the line like a sprinter, not a defensive end.
He threw down yet another quarterback, this time like a bag of dirty laundry.
He got his first career fumble recovery and, if not for a teammate and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, would have scored a touchdown on the return.
And by the end he was about to throw down with a wayward teammate on the sideline. His best friend on the Seahawks, in fact.
Seattle’s top draft pick in 2015 was everywhere on Sunday in the Seahawks’ 25-23 win over San Francisco that set up a wild-card playoff game at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
Clark’s sack of Kaepernick gave him 10 on the season, after four in his rookie year.
Clark was a controversial top draft selection for Seattle last year, controversial because he’d been kicked of his college team at Michigan after he was arrested on domestic violence charges stemming from an incident at a hotel in Ohio.
Coach Pete Carroll said last summer he wanted Clark to have more of a role in the Seahawks’ pass rush.
Voila! Despite a more situation role than a starting one for most of the year, Clark finished second on the team to Pro Bowl end Cliff Avril’s 11 1/2 sacks. He played outside off the edge and inside in some passing situations as a tackle. His speed was often too much for opposing linemen to catch, let alone block.
“Get double digits. That was my only goal,” Clark said in the visiting locker room at Levi’s Stadium. “I wanted to get that at some point in my career. I did it in my second year, and it’s a blessing.”
Clark saw the reasons behind his increased role, and thus increased production, this season.
“Confidence. And trust — on both sides,” he said. “My coaches let me know in spring ball that, ‘Hey, man, we’ve got a lot of confidence in you. We’ve got a lot of trust in you.’
“Last year I could understand why the trust wouldn’t have been there. You’ve got a rookie coming in who doesn’t know which way was right, you know. You do some things right and some things wrong — or a lot of things wrong. At the end of the day it just took … it’s a humbling experience. The NFL, it’s humbling.
“When you are coming from college, you are ‘The Man.’ You are the best player. You are the one that everybody loves. Then you come to the NFL and you are around great players, Hall-of-Fame players. Players that are eventually going to make you better.
“You have to learn that when you come to the NFL — you aren’t good. You have to become good again.”
He’s so good now, he’s become a leader in his second sesason.
In the fourth quarter, Reed got thrown out of the game for a post-play personal foul while the Seahawks were playing to preserve their lead.
“He threw a punch,” Carroll said of Reed. “So he deserved to be ejected.”
And taught. Clark went at the rookie defensive tackle on the Seahawks’ sideline, before Reed walked to the team’s locker room.
“We need you!” was the G-rated version of what Clark told Reed.
“That’s my brother, man,” Clark said. “I spend more time with him than anybody else, on the field and off the field. … We can’t afford a mistake, especially at the time in the game we can’t afford nothing dumb.
“Me being a second-year player, I’ve been there, done that.”
Including, now, that double-digit sack season.
LIFE AFTER LYNCH
It’s still far from great.
J.D. McKissic was back deep to return the 49ers’ first kickoff. He then began Seattle’s second drive with a 2-yard run. That made last month’s waiver pickup from Atlanta the 18th Seahawk to record a rush in a game this season.
This past week, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called it a “Rolodex of runners.” And they have not excelled. Seattle entered the game 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense, at 100.3 yards per game.
The Seahawks ran for 20 yards over their first 11 carries Sunday and finished with times 87 yards on 25 carries. Seattle finished the regular season averaging 99.4 yards per game on the ground. Christine Michael led the team this year in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns — and is no longer with the team.
Last season, Seattle averaged 141.8 yards rushing.
DEFENSE LOSES POINTS-ALLOWED TITLE
New England won 35-14 win at Miami — and finished the regular season allowing a league-best 15.6 points per game. So ended the Seahawks’ streak of consecutive years leading the NFL in points allowed at four.
Seattle allowed 292 points this season, 18.3 per game.
But on the positive side…Clark and Pro Bowl middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was happy to talk about the defense getting the team’s turnover margin for the regular season back above even.
Clark’s fumble recovery and a recovery by Wagner of another 49ers fumble allowed Seattle to end the regular season at plus-1 in turnover margin.
“All year, coach has been on us, ‘We have to get the ball. We have to get the ball!’” Clark said.
KASEN WILLIAMS RETURNS
Kasen Williams lined up wide right with Seattle deep in its own end in the third quarter. It was the ex-Washington Huskies wide receiver’s season debut on offense. The Seahawks promoted Williams from the practice squad this week after Tyler Lockett broke his leg and went on injured reserve.
It was Williams’ fifth game of his two-year NFL career. He played the last two regular-season games of 2015 plus both of Seattle’s playoff games last January.
Jimmy Graham finished the regular season with 65 catches on 95 targets. That four more receptions than he had in his Seattle debut season of 2015, which ended a month early because of a torn patellar tendon in his knee. Graham had 923 yards receiving, his most since 1,215 with the Saints in 2012. His six touchdowns were the same as he had last season. … Kick snapper Nolan Frese’s sprained ankle was the only injury Carroll mentioned. He finished the game, limping, and sent a punt snap over Jon Ryan’s head out of the back of the end zone on a fly for a safety in the third quarter. … Bradley Sowell began last month as the starting right tackle. Sunday he was a healthy inactive for the second consecutive game while Garry Gilliam started there again.