The Seahawks and 49ers will resume pleasantries this Sunday in San Francisco when the 2011 NFL season kicks off. But the rivalry will mean just a little bit more this time around than it has in years.
The reason: the coaches. Seattle’s Pete Carroll and San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh go way back. And they’re not exactly old buddies.
As you college football fans will remember, Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh became rivals while coaching USC and Stanford, respectively, in the Pac-10 during the late 2000s.
Prior to the 2007 season, Harbaugh prophesized that Carroll “would last one more season at USC” before his Stanford Cardinal pulled one of the biggest upsets in college football history over Carroll’s then-No. 2 Trojans.
The rivalry intensified in 2009. With Stanford ahead of USC by four touchdowns in a game, Harbaugh decided 49-21 just wasn’t a big enough margin, so he called for a two-point conversion.
It failed, but Stanford scored another touchdown shortly thereafter and won 55-21.
During the post-game handshake, Carroll asked, “What’s the deal?” — “What’s your deal?” Harbaugh responded.” That exchange erased any doubt that these two guys don’t like each other.
Now, the rivalry resumes at the NFL level. While it probably won’t reach the level of anything involving Rex Ryan, Carroll/Harbaugh II has plenty of potential.
The NFC West has been somewhat of an afterthought the last few seasons.
However, with Sam Bradford’s arrival in St. Louis, Kevin Kolb in Arizona and the Carroll/Harbaugh connection fuelling the Seahawks/49ers rivalry, things are getting interesting again.