By Jerrell Richardson
The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks waged battle in a physical contest that was not for the faint of heart this past Thursday. After the game, San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh was not sure that the hands-on approach used by the Seattle secondary was completely legal, and mentioned that he would ask the league for clarification of the rules. During the game it did not appear as though Seattle’s methods were blatant penalties, but there was certainly extra contact down the field, and Harbaugh felt that at least one of the plays warranted a flag. The reason behind his comment is unclear, but the outcome is going to be exactly what his team needs and gives these two teams just another reason to dislike each other.
Did Seattle Cheat?
Was he calling out Seattle? Harbaugh says no. He explained that he was not saying that the play of the defenders was illegal, that he simply would like clarification as to what is and isn’t allowed. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll did not care how it was meant, and took it as Harbaugh saying his players were dirty. He took up for his team and shot back that the 49ers coach was covering up for the fact that his receivers were overwhelmed and added that the receivers didn’t do much in the game (at least half on which is true).
Was Carroll Right?
Was Harbaugh calling out his own team? Maybe. By having a war of words in the media with Carroll he has put some attention back on this team deficiency without directly calling out his highly sensitive receiving core (see Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss). Their performance was disappointing as it has been at times this year, and what better way to fire up his own team than having an opponent’s coach speak out against their lack of productivity. Only the players know if there was holding by the Seattle secondary or not, and if it led to the passing game’s absence, it buys the receivers some time. However, it also gives them no excuse if it continues to happen.
Done For Now
Harbaugh also did not miss the opportunity to take a slight shot back at the Seahawks. Instead replying with a no comment, his response to Carroll’s calling out the 49ers receiving core was that the 49ers come from, “the sticks and stone’s school of approach. So calling, us names isn’t going to hurt us.” He did leave it at that, though, so for now both teams will focus on their upcoming opponents and not each other, but this matter is far from resolved.
Time Will Tell
The beauty of any divisional relationship is that the teams must play each other twice every season, so both teams have already gone to the schedule and circled the rematch set in Seattle. For the Seahawks, they gain absolutely nothing from this. The 49ers, on the other hand, have re-lit a fire under their receivers as the passing attack must become more consistent in order to give this team a shot at making it far in the playoffs. At the time of the rematch, Seattle could also be out of playoff contention, so this bulletin board material may keep San Francisco focused on a lesser opponent. Harbaugh has also forced the referees to watch more closely the next time these two play, so there should be no question as to the legality of the play after that game. This may cause Harbaugh to eat his words, but he has put faith in his receivers to prove his comment right, or to at least play more inspired and more physical as they move through this season.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.