The Seattle Seahawks’ 17-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers could mark the end of an era in the rivalry between the two.
There is plenty of speculation among members of the media and fans that Jim Harbaugh could be leaving San Francisco at the end of the season. While the 49ers are unlikely to fire Harbaugh outright despite a lackluster 7-7 season, the time seems right for both parties to move on.
Harbaugh’s history with Pete Carroll was a huge part of the growth of the Seahawks-49ers rivalry over the past four seasons. Since Harbaugh took over in 2011, Seattle and San Francisco have split eight regular season games with a number of ferocious, hard-hitting contests.
The two teams were almost built to compete with one another and both have featured excellent defenses during the current tenure of their head coaches. It’s possible that having such a competitive inter-division rival every season was a factor for Carroll in both team construction and motivation.
A potential Harbaugh departure would certainly have an impact on the Seattle-San Francisco rivalry. Carroll himself will likely miss the matchups and the challenge Harbaugh’s teams presented.
Still, the Seahawks will still have plenty of motivation in the coming years.
Seattle’s rivalry with the Arizona Cardinals could soon be taken up a notch. The Cardinals play a similar brand of brutal defense as the Seahawks and 49ers, and head coach Bruce Arians isn’t afraid to speak his mind, which could light a fire under some opponents.
The Cardinals look like they will be very competitive as long as Arians is in charge. The Seahawks lost an intense contest at home last year to Arizona and next Sunday’s contest, which could decide the NFC West, is the type of game that could set up an excellent series for years to come.
Plus, the 49ers won’t be going anywhere, new coach or not. A potential new hire could change San Francisco’s style, but the 49ers have plenty of talent and will be led by players like Carlos Hyde and Chris Borland for years to come.
The St. Louis Rams are also going to be very good once they get the quarterback situation figured out. All four NFC West teams play excellent defense and have the youth to sustain a high level of play for the foreseeable future.
Harbaugh fits in perfectly as Seattle’s villain, so Seahawks’ fans would be sad to see him leave. But Carroll and company will have plenty of reasons to maintain their current level of intensity without him.
Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press
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