The 49ers and Seahawks, as is well documented, have developed a fierce rivalry over the past couple of years. This coincided with the arrival of two coaches from the NCAA conference now known as the PAC-12, Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll. As these two football minds have built teams with a similar physical framework, the rivalry has become ever more competitive, ever more intense, and ever more awesome. Yet, one thing still must occur for the rivalry to become ultimate: a team must win on the road. Yes, the 49ers won in Seattle in Harbaugh’s first year, but the Seahawks did not yet have Russell Wilson, they were not yet worthy of the true rivalry. Now, it appears, they have arrived.
After finishing 8-0 at CenturyLink Field a year ago, Seattle tries to continue their home winning streak this Sunday night against the Harbaugh, the ripped Colin Kaepernick, and a 49ers squad that is ready for battle (see: Joe Staley defending his quarterback). Stanford and Southern California, the previous employers of Harbaugh and Carroll respectively, only developed a true rivalry after the Cardinal demolished the Trojans 55-21, with a two-point conversion attempt thrown in for good measure. Carroll’s “What’s your deal?” quote has become an infamous backdrop for these two coaches, and now for these two teams.
Both coaches try hard to deflect attention from themselves in this rivalry. They want it to be about the players, and they both, I am convinced, firmly believe it is. Yet, one thing does carry over from their college days—not including their intensity and similar philosophies—the need for a victory on an opponent’s home turf. Will it happen Sunday? Who knows? It is tough to win away from home. It is even tougher to do it against a quality squad in perhaps the most difficult stadium to visit. That, however, is the 49ers’ task. It is what any fan of a good rivalry should hope for (bar Seahawks fans, of course). It will measure the resolve of Harbaugh’s men and definitely keep San Francisco fans glued to a screen. If the 49ers pull this off, and I have faith they will, Carroll could once again ask Harbaugh “What’s your deal?” I imagine Harbaugh replying something along the lines of: “This just got real.”