San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh met with the media again on Wednesday as he prepares to face the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game, and he reiterated that he holds no special animosity against Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. Harbaugh previously said in Tuesday's press conference that the rivalry against Carroll was a thing of the past, and he added on Wednesday that now it's just about football, competition and winning.
The Seahawks and 49ers have faced each other six times since Harbaugh joined the team as head coach in 2011, and San Francisco has won four of those games. It has lost its last two games in Seattle, however, with the Seahawks winning those games by a combined score of 71-10. But Harbaugh shows no concern when it comes to whether or not quarterback Colin Kaepernick can handle the pressure of the big game:
"Going back to college when I first started watching him play, the big games, the big challenge, he has that ability the great ones have to elevate their game in big situations," Harbaugh said.
Kaepernick has not played well in the past two road games at Seattle, however. Harbaugh said preparation is giving the team confidence this time will be different.
"This is only for the tough at this point in the season," Harbaugh said. "The things I would trade to be able to compete as a player in this game — pretty significant."
The "Harbaugh vs Carroll" storyline has been brought up before each of those meetings, due to the two having some highly publicized exchanges while coaching for Stanford and USC.
Harbaugh also talked about what it's like to play at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, noting that the offense will "strive to be precise" against the Seahawks defense and loud "12th Man" crowd. No team in the NFL has forced as many opposing false start penalties as Seattle has since opening its new stadium in 2002.
The 49ers have lost eight of their last 11 games in Seattle, last winning 19-17 on Christmas Eve in 2011. That was the same score in their last meeting, a win for San Francisco in Week 14 of this season in the Bay Area.
By now, Harbaugh is well-aware of the challenges that come with playing in the Northwest, especially in the midst of one of the greatest current rivalries in football. In his own press conference for the Seattle media, Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman said that there was no love lost between the two teams, because "there's no love found."
Harbaugh may not think there's much of a rivalry between him and Carroll, but the rest of Seattle would seem to disagree.