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Rivalry Raises Bar for 49ers, Seahawks

Posted Sep 9, 2013

The 49ers-Seahawks rivalry has pushed the two NFC West teams to be considered among the NFL's elite.

The 49ers are in the final stages of the 24-hour rule.

Once the players return to team headquarters on Tuesday, all the focus goes from a comeback win over the Green Bay Packers to Sunday’s road matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.

The matchup of the 49ers (1-0) and Seahawks (1-0), two NFC West division title contenders stocked with Pro Bowl-caliber talent, will take place on “Sunday Night Football,” no less.

After splitting last season’s series, coupled with the ongoing rivalry between the team’s head coaches, everyone in the country wants to see the two talented and physical teams square-off.

Jim Harbaugh is 3-1 against the Pete Carroll-coached Seahawks team. Last season’s Week 16 road loss in Seattle was Harbaugh’s first defeat to Carroll on any level. The two coaches had memorable battles as head coaches for Stanford and USC, respectively.

The intensity between the two coaches has only continued in the professional ranks.

Harbaugh, however, didn’t sound like he was too focused on hyping the rivalry storylines heading into Sunday. Instead, the 49ers coach is keeping a business-as-usual approach.

Harbaugh said as much on Monday.

“We always look at the next game as being the most important game of the year,” the 49ers coach when the topic of Seattle was brought up the first of three times in his 20-minute press conference. “Winning that game, whenever the next game is, is the most important game on the schedule.”

When Seattle was brought up again in the latter stages of his press briefing, Harbaugh remained cordial when discussing Sunday’s opponent. In 2012, the 49ers beat the Seahawks at home, 13-6, in a physical battle. In a late-season contest, the Seahawks won 42-13, providing the most points from an opponent in Harbaugh’s NFL coaching career.

The 49ers coach said he learned something from the defeat, but that it’s not carrying over into this year’s divisional matchup.

In fact, the rivalry between the two teams is a healthy one, according to Harbaugh.

“I think it always raises the bar for both teams,” the 49ers coach said.

The two teams have pushed each other every season and it’s perfectly fine with Harbaugh.

“It’s football, it’s competition, it’s winning,” the 49ers coach said. “There’s good football teams that we’re playing right out of the blocks here. Seattle’s an outstanding football team and will be a great test for our team. We know the challenge that’s ahead of us.”

So is it premature to talk about playoff implications in Week 2?

“Yeah,” Harbaugh fired back in response. “It’s a free country; you can talk about whatever you want.”

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