SEATTLE -- Terrell Owens demonstrated to the Seattle Seahawks why the San Francisco 49ers so often have owned the NFC West.
The All-Pro receiver, held in check for most of the game, caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia midway through the fourth quarter to give the 49ers a 28-21 victory over the division's team Monday night. He capped the play with a characteristic flourish by taking a pen from his sock and autographing the ball.
Seattle (1-4) led 21-20 and was driving for another score when Ahmad Plummer intercepted an ill-advised pass by Trent Dilfer at the San Francisco 32 with 10 minutes left in the game. The 49ers moved from there to the Seattle 37, where Garcia found Owens deep down the left side, where he took the ball over Shawn Springs for the score.
He then signed the ball for a friend to whom he had promised the ball. The friend, ironically, was sitting in Springs' suite.
The win kept the 49ers (4-1) one game ahead of Arizona in the division that they won 14 times between 1981 and 1997, the last year they won it. With St. Louis' demise this season, they are a heavy favorite to win it again this season.
San Francisco took a 10-0 lead on Jose Cortez's 37-yard field goal and Garcia's 8-yard TD pass to Owens, who finished with six catches for 84 yards.
The field goal came on a 73-yard drive off the opening kickoff.
Then Zack Bronson, who later left the game with a broken foot, intercepted a pass by Dilfer on Seattle's first possession. The 49ers took six plays to complete the drive when Garcia rolled right and found Owens all alone on the goal line and he stepped into the end zone - no autograph on that one.
Seattle retaliated immediately, going 69 yards in 10 plays to score on Dilfer's 5-yard touchdown pass to Mack Strong with 1:45 left in the first quarter. Dilfer had two critical third-and-long completions to Bobby Engram to keep the drive alive.
Then Engram struck again. He took Jason Baker's punt at his 39, broke a tackle by long snapper Brian Jennings and was free, weaving his way 61 yards to give Seattle a 14-10 lead with 5:41 left until halftime.
Cortez' 29-yard field goal on the next drive made it 14-13 and that's the way the half ended.
The 49ers' first possession of the second half was their best - a 12-play, 99-yard drive primarily on the ground capped by Kevan Barlow's 6-yard run off left tackle for a 20-14 lead.
Back came Seattle. Shaun Alexander went 42 yards on the first play from scrimmage, then capped the 76-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 1:11 left in the third quarter to make it 21-20.
But in the end, it wasn't enough to hold down Owens - and his pen.