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NFC Championship preview: Seahawks vs. 49ers

Evenly-matched NFC West rivals should make for exciting game

staff writer

Published: Saturday, January 18, 2014

Updated: Saturday, January 18, 2014 19:01

This Sunday, there is more on the line than just being heralded as the champion of the NFC. This game holds NFC West bragging rights, and that is huge for these two rivals.

The San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks are carbon copies of each other.  Both squads are hard-nose, no-excuses, get-down-to-business football teams. Both sides understand the run game is just as important as the pass game, which is easily seen by the use of their blue-chip running backs in Frank Gore for San Francisco and Marshawn Lynch for the ’Hawks.

Both quarterbacks are world-class athletes, and no one can overlook the two defenses that go back and forth in being the league’s best week to week. Really, these teams could switch uniforms and really be in the same position. They are that good.

But they are not the same team, and the coaching staff for each team make it a point in making sure the mistakes the week before do not happen again. The most interesting thing about this is how different the coaching styles are.

Pete Carroll, the head coach for the Seahawks, is the most energetic coach in the NFL hands down. He is a scout team quarterback during OTAs and training camp, and he is regularly found running up and down the field like he is one of the defensive backs that make up his menacing “Legion of Doom” secondary. In a league where most of the head coaches would rather tell you what you are doing wrong, Carroll is a coach who would much rather tell you what you are good at. When CBS Sports asked if the veterans who came through the door liked that mentality and attitude, Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice simply responded with, “Like it? What player wouldn’t like it? What player likes being told all the time how terrible they are?” That’s what Carroll calls his “win forever” philosophy, his “always compete” mantra. If you are willing to compete, they’ll give you your shot, but you have to earn it; even if it is a little different.

On the other hand, the mantra for San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh is “Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” He is a coach I’d like to call Bill Belichick-esque — and yes, I did just make that word up. Harbaugh is the stereotypical no-nonsense, buckle-up-your-chinstrap-and-hit-anyone-in-the-other-jersey kind of coach. In reality, he might be the scariest man in the NFL; and that includes people like James Harrison and Terrell Suggs. Sailors tell stories of his tirades directed at the referees who call anything against his squad. Some people may call him mean, rude or downright belligerent, but everyone can agree on one thing: He wins games. Period. Harbaugh is the only coach in NFL history to go to the NFC championship in his first three years. That’s mind boggling considering this league has housed coaches in the likes of Don Shula, Tom Landry, Bill Walsh and Chuck Knoll. He may go down as the coach to out Belichick. ESPN has said he very well may go down as one of, if not the greatest coach of his generation; and really, who can deny that? While you won’t see him smiling on the sideline very often, you will see him on the winning end of most of his games; and in this league, smiles don’t matter. Wins do.

Both coaches molded these teams to resemble their coaching styles, starting with hard-nose defenses that have taken up personalities of their own.

The Seattle secondary has been dubbed the best in the NFL, and the rest of the squad has made their claim to being the best big-play defense in the NFL. With a league-leading 80 interceptions since 2010, the Seahawks not only know how to get to the ball, but have players like Kam Chancellor lay a hit on a receiver that leaves them wanting an ice pack and a massage.

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