A switch of quarterbacks named Smith did wonders for San Francisco.
      Alex Smith threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns in a
triumphant return to the starting lineup following a five-game
absence, and the 49ers improved their once-slim playoff hopes with
a 40-21 victory over the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
      The Niners muddled up the ugly West race even more with a
surprisingly lopsided win.
      San Francisco (5-8) moved within a game of division leaders
Seattle (6-7) and St. Louis (6-7). The 49ers looked much more like
the team that was predicted to win the division after an unbeaten
preseason - not the bunch that began 0-5.
      Matt Hasselbeck went 27 for 42 for 285 yards and two TDs, but
threw four interceptions and lost a fumble as Seattle had turnovers
in five of six possessions during one stretch.
      Vernon Davis caught five passes for 70 yards and a 42-yard
catch-and-run TD, Josh Morgan made a 15-yard touchdown reception
and Brian Westbrook hauled in a 62-yard touchdown pass for his
longest career TD catch and longest play from scrimmage since 2006.
Westbrook wound up with six catches for 87 yards.