In some ways it seems the 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks of this decade were made for each other.
“We are very similar in the way we like to go after it in defense, running game and special teams,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday, “so you see two like philosophies go at it.”
Does that mean Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, not exactly the closest of friends, aren’t all that different as coaches?
“What do you think?” Carroll asked.
Entering another matchup between the two men and their teams, this Sunday in Seattle, it’s hard to answer in anything but the affirmative.
From the outside looking in, Harbaugh and Carroll are both ultra-competitive coaches. Call them fiery. Call them singular. Call them whatever you want. They seem to have many of the same qualities.
Here is Harbaugh, responding to a question earlier this week, about the magnitude of the 49ers-Seahawks matchup.
“We always look at the next game as being the most important game of the year,” he said. “Winning that game, whenever the next game is, is the most important game on the schedule.”
And here is Carroll on Wednesday.
“We try to treat everyone ‘em like it’s the biggest game in the world, and we’ve done it that way for a long time,” Carroll said. “We try to be disciplined about that, so that we don’t waver our performance with who we are playing.
“They’re going to get our best shot, and I know they’ll be gunned up and ready to go, too.”
Their players may not all be getting the memo.
“In their mind – they probably won’t say it in front of the players – but they definitely want to win this game a lot more than other games,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said Wednesday. “That just adds the cherry on top, building the excitement up for this game.”
Under the cherry and back to the proof being in the pudding: An outside observer could say that Harbaugh and Carroll like to coach the same kind of players.
This is evidenced by the way cornerback Richard Sherman and wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who both played for Harbaugh at Stanford, have fit so well into Carroll’s “program” up north.
“Those guys have an attitude about them,” Carroll said. “They are extremely competitive. Both bring a real nature to their play that we love.”
Wonder where that comes from.
Of course, Harbaugh and Carroll do not agree on everything, even when you might expect them to do just that.
Here is the 49ers coach on the NFL’s new rule regarding tackling read-option quarterbacks such as
“I believe that when a quarterback is handing the ball off or faking a ball – in the read-option case, he’s reading on an option play – that he’s as defenseless as a quarterback who is in the act of throwing,” the coach said. “I’m not advocating that they don’t hit the quarterback if he has the ball, but if he’s in the pocket, I believe there should be a strike zone.”
Does the Seahawks coach, who has Russell Wilson run the divisive scheme, agree with Harbaugh?
“No, not at all. Because I don’t see any issue with it,” Carroll said. “I think that quarterbacks, when they’re runners they’re able to get hit and when they’re not they’re not. I think that’s the only way they could have stated the rules and I thought they were pretty clear about it.”
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