To have a rivalry in sports, or in general, both sides have to win in head-to-head match ups. For example, if Duke’s basketball team played Pepperdine and beat them 100 times, it wouldn’t be a rivalry. Both teams have to win some.
The Seahawks and 49ers both have won some.
First, there was a close, hard-fought game last October when the Seahawks couldn’t score a touchdown in a 13-6 loss. Then there was the day before Christmas bashing when Seattle couldn’t stop scoring touchdowns.
This is a full blown rivalry.
With all respect to the current incarnations of Red Sox/Yankees, Michigan/Ohio State and even Real Madrid/Barcelona, the Hawks/Niners rivalry takes the cake.
What makes the rivalry so intense is the far-reaching nature of it. From the fans to the players, to even the coaches, these teams aren’t too friendly. After all, what coach wants to shake hands with his opponent after said opponent goes for two while up by 27 in the fourth quarter?
As much as they try and play it off, there is animosity between Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh. The fact that the animosity was there before each of them arrived at their current jobs made the rivalry good to start with. The fact that the animosity festered and is at the point where it is now makes it even better.
Harbaugh commented on the Seahawks’ Adderall situation, which was… how shall I put this… unnecessary? To be fair, the coach was asked the question by a member of the press, so it’s not as if he sprouted the topic out of nowhere, but he could have handled it more conservatively.
There was also the time that Jack and Jackie Harbuagh’s youngest complained about the physical play of the Seahawks’ cornerbacks, wanting to “take that up with the” the league.
Pete Carroll didn’t seem to like it. Neither did Brandon Browner or Richard Sherman, the corners who were deemed too physical. Part of Browner’s response: “He’s never gonna be out there lined up against me. I wish he would. I’d put my hands around his neck.” Sherman then proceeded to call Harbaugh a bully. That wasn’t an observation without basis, the Seahawks corner played for the current 49ers coach at Stanford before joining Pete Carroll’s Seahawks in the NFL. He would know.
Even the fans are getting involved. Here is a lovely (said with an extremely heavy dose of sarcasm) clip of 49ers fans explaining why they hate Pete Carroll. Yes, hate, that strong of a word.
My response would be to ask those fans how they feel about having a character from a children’s cartoon moonlighting as their starting quarterback, but that’s just me.
You can tell that the Seahawks and 49ers don’t like each other. From the coaches down to the fans, there is genuine dislike.
But the crowning jewel of it all might not have anything to do with the rivalry, at least not directly. The Seahawks and Niners are, in most people’s opinion, the two best teams in the sport. This makes their games all the better to watch, because whether you’re a Seattle fan, a San Francisco fan or neutral, you know you are going to get a fantastic game of football. Add in an extremely fierce rivalry teaming (pun intended) with “she-hawks” and “forty whiners” (my personal favorite, a pun and an accurate statement, all rolled into one!) quips, and you have one heck of a football game.