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Jim Harbaugh Downplays Rivalry with Pete Carroll

Posted Jan 14, 2014

The NFC Championship game will be played on its own merits. It's not a Jim Harbaugh-Pete Carroll matchup.

The NFC Championship game will be played on its own merits.

It’s not Jim Harbaugh vs. Pete Carroll.

It’s the 49ers vs. the Seahawks for all the (NFC) marbles.

So while members of the media love to make it a coaching rivalry more than focusing on a meeting between two of the NFC’s most rugged teams, Harbaugh isn’t necessarily concerned about reporter’s perceptions of the coach’s involvement in the many storylines set to unfold.

“I haven’t seen that,” the 49ers coach said on Monday. “I haven’t seen where that’s really even talked about anymore. I think that might have been something four or five years ago. But, I haven’t seen it as of late. And, it would be as irrelevant now as it would have been then when people made a bigger deal out of it. So, irrelevant, irrelevant.”

Yes, Harbaugh is not having any of it.

This week is all about San Francisco preparing for a third consecutive postseason game on the road. Plus, it’s a chance for the 49ers to win a ninth consecutive game and advance to the franchise’s seventh Super Bowl.

Harbaugh sees his team prepared for Sunday’s test in Seattle. He even likened his squad to “The Man in Black.”

“Our team’s been in a lot of good primers,” Harbaugh said. “Been through a lot of situations. Been through tough environments, whether it be weather or opposing stadiums. This team’s been in a lot of situations. Been everywhere man. Like the Johnny Cash song, ‘We’ve been everywhere man.’ Everywhere. Been in a lot of situations.”

Even so, wins over Green Bay and Carolina won’t propel San Francisco to another victory this Sunday.

“This game will be played on its merit,” the 49ers coach said. “We’ll prepare ourselves and we’ll be ready to go.”

A big emphasis in this week’s preparation will be working on communication, verbal and non-verbal. San Francisco trailed early in a Week 2 meeting in Seattle and the game snowballed to the tune of a 29-3 Seahawks victory.

The noise took the 49ers out of their rhythm early in the season.

This week, the 49ers will once again prepare for a road matchup by blasting loud music in practice to simulate the raucous home environment at Century Link Field.

“You’ve got to be able to communicate without being able to hear very well,” Harbaugh said. “You can simulate that somewhat in practice. Signals, hand signals, verbal signals, body language, reading lips, different ways. But, we’ll practice that. We’ve been in some of those environments, as you know.”

Harbaugh believes his team has learned from the mistakes they’ve made in their back-to-back road losses in Seattle.

Although he didn’t want to “re-plow” the Week 2 loss to Seattle, Harbaugh did offer that the mistakes have helped shape this year’s team.

“I suppose we could have done better in areas than we did,” he said. “We didn’t win the game. If you went back and looked at it there was sort of that avalanche at the end and the game got out of hand late in the game. But, we’ll learn from our mistakes. That’s how you get smart. That’s how we all get smart, right? If we learn from our mistakes, we get smart.”

In addition, Harbaugh and his coaching staff are wiser on the coaching style of Carroll and his Seahawks staff.

Judging by his positive comments about Seattle’s organization, Harbaugh has no animosity towards Carroll.

“It’s hard to get to this point,” the 49ers coach said. “It’s hard to get to this position. Talking about a year of preparation and planning and offseason and training camp and games. And (Seattle) did it better than anybody did it this entire season. So, a great task, great challenge ahead of us 49ers.”



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