January 20, 2014 / 5:01 PM / 4 years ago

Two key 49ers players suffer serious injuries in title loss

(Reuters) - San Francisco Pro Bowl players NaVorro Bowman and Mike Iupati both suffered major injuries in the 49ers’ 23-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s NFC championship game.

Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) is carted off the field after an injury against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Linebacker Bowman went down with a likely torn ACL injury to his left knee while left guard Iupati fractured his left ankle, the team said.

Iupati’s injury occurred early in the game on a fourth-down plunge into the end zone by 49ers running back Anthony Dixon.

The 331-pound (150 kg) guard was buried under a pile of players on the goal line and had to be helped off the field.

Bowman’s injury in the second half was another devastating blow for the 49ers. He and Iupati both left the locker room after the game on crutches.

Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) and guard Mike Iupati (77) celebrate during the fourth quarter of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. San Francisco won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bowman took the ball away from receiver Jermaine Kearse just short of the goal line in a fourth-quarter play, but had his leg bent badly when Kearse fell on him.

Adding insult to injury, the play was not ruled a fumble and Seattle was given the ball on the one-yard line. San Francisco, however, did not suffer on the scoreboard as the Niners stopped them from scoring on fourth down.

Seattle Seahawks Jermaine Kearse falls on the leg of San Francisco 49ers NaVorro Bowman injuring his knee as he loses control of the ball during the fourth quarter in the NFL's NFC Championship football game in Seattle, January 19, 2014. REUTERS/David Ryder

“I know how tough he is,” linebacker mate Patrick Willis said of his friend. “I could hear him yelling.”

“He’s going to be all right. He’s strong mentally and physically.”

The victory sent the Seahawks to the National Football League’s February 2 Super Bowl in New Jersey against the Denver Broncos.

Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Julian Linden

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