Seahawks-49ers rivalry on life support with San Francisco fading

Dec 11, 2014, 1:25 PM | Updated: 1:25 pm
Considered the best in football in recent years, the Seahawks-49ers rivalry has a different feel -- and a different sound -- with San Francisco in decline. (AP)
(AP)

RENTON – The kindness must be killing them.

More specifically, Seattle’s kindness has got to be killing a 49ers team that the Seahawks were measuring themselves against as recently as two weeks ago. On Wednesday, coach Pete Carroll had to remind everyone this game was as important as it appeared to be when the schedule came out.

“We don’t see this game any different,” he said.

Quite a switch from the build-up we’ve become accustomed to in the Seattle vs. San Francisco series where both coaches do their best to insist that this isn’t any bigger, any more important than any other game on the schedule.

This week, the 49ers are 7-6, a double-digit underdog for the first time in Jim Harbaugh’s four years as head coach and facing a Seahawks defense that has allowed two touchdowns over the past three games.

The reality is that core elements of the 49ers’ roster are aged and injured. Patrick Willis is out for the year with a toe injury, fellow linebacker NaVorro Bowman has yet to make it back from that awful knee injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game last January and running back Frank Gore is averaging even fewer yards per carry this season than he did in 2013 when he gained a career-low 4.1.

Top it all off with quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s regression and you get the picture of a team on the decline before you even get to the offseason coaching change that most see as inevitable.

Yet even Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman – the guy who thanked Kaepernick for the game-clinching interception last January before calling receiver Michael Crabtree mediocre – was not yet ready to bury the 49ers yet let alone dance on their grave.

After picking off Kaepernick twice on Thanksgiving, Sherman was asked if the Seahawks know Kaepernick better than other quarterbacks.

“To a degree, but it’s like you know all the (NFC West teams’) tendencies a little better,” Sherman said.

And from San Francisco’s end, there’s probably nothing more demeaning than having a team that once measured itself against you now try to insist that you’re still relevant.

“We see the same players and the coaches and the style,” Carroll said. “We remember what’s gone on and how good they’ve been and all that. They’re very, very close to being right where they need to be at the end of the year here and nobody knows how this story is going to be written at this point.”

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