- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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SEATTLE -- The San Francisco 49ers lost one of their best players to a serious injury in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game at Seattle.
Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman suffered what appeared to be a gruesome knee injury on a bizarre play at the goal line. Bowman appeared to have a fumble recovery, but the officials ruled Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch ended up with the ball.
Bowman, a candidate for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, was taken off the field on a cart, and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game it appeared Bowman suffered a torn ACL.
Seattle held on to win, 23-17.
The 49ers also lost standout left guard Mike Iupati.
Iupati injured his left ankle on a one-yard touchdown run by 49ers fullback Anthony Dixon to give San Francisco a 10-0 lead over the Seahawks in the second quarter of the NFC Championship Game. Iupati had to be helped off the field and couldn't put weight on his ankle. He was later carted off the field.
Harbaugh said after the game that the team expects Iupati suffered a fractured ankle.
He was replaced by Adam Snyder, who started four games this season and played well when Iupati suffered a sprained MCL Nov. 17 at New Orleans.
James was on his back on the field for several minutes before being helped to the sideline with his arms around trainers.
James had attempted to field the punt from Seattle's Jon Ryan on the first play of the second quarter, but the ball hit off his chest. As he attempted to reach for the ball, Lockette hit James hard to the turf.
The 49ers announced James was questionable, but he returned to the field a kickoff later in the second quarter.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.