Fierce 49ers-Seahawks rivals clash for Super Bowl berth

Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:58pm EST
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(Reuters) - The intensity level could hit an all-time high when the rugged Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, who form one of the National Football League's fiercest rivalries, meet on Sunday for a spot in the Super Bowl.

The teams share the West Coast, the NFC West division, and are mirror images with mobile quarterbacks directing offenses with power running backs and ferocious top-five defenses that enjoy intimidating with bone-jarring hits and trash talking.

Personal rivalries in the NFC Championship game run from quarterbacks Russell Wilson of Seattle and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick, who both carry chips on their shoulders from feeling overlooked in the NFL Draft, down to the head coaches.

Jim Harbaugh of the Niners and Seattle's Pete Carroll have been rivals since doing battle as college coaches in California when Carroll was in charge of powerhouse University of Southern California and Harbaugh turned Stanford into a power.

The Niners, who lost a heartbreaking 34-31 decision in last year's Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens, are the NFL's hottest team with eight straight wins but are on the road as a wild card team after finishing second to Seattle (13-3) in the NFC West.


Seattle have been virtually unbeatable at home with the backing of their formidable '12th Man,' the raucous CenturyLink Field fans who set a Guinness World Record for crowd noise in December.

Harbaugh tried to downplay his relationship with Carroll, but not his enthusiasm for the electricity surrounding the game.

"Animosity, no. Erroneous, erroneous," Harbaugh said about any lingering bad feelings toward his Seattle counterpart. "It's football. It's competition. It's winning."   Continued...

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) runs against Carolina Panthers strong safety Robert Lester (38) during the second half of the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports