Artifact of the Game: 49ers at Seahawks
Harbaugh Begins NFL Coaching Career With Win Over Seattle
By Joe Hession, 49ers Museum historian
One of the NFL’s most passionate rivalries resumes today as the 49ers square off with the Seattle Seahawks. The two teams have been spirited NFC West foes since 2002, but the arrival of 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh in 2011 added a new twist to the matchup.
Harbaugh and Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll have been longstanding coaching foes since their college days at Stanford and USC. Their competitive relationship continued at the professional level when Harbaugh launched his NFL coaching career on opening day of 2011.
“These (games with Seattle) are always tough,” Harbaugh said. “It’s like three hours of getting root-canal work done. These games are only for the tough.”
The physical nature of the 49ers-Seahawks rivalry is welcomed and embraced in the San Francisco locker room. Linebacker Patrick Willis compares games with Seattle to heavyweight title fights.
“We’re not throwing little jabs,” Willis said. “We’re trying to knock each other out.” Harbaugh rebuilt the 49ers in 2011 around rugged defense and a ground-pounding
offense that featured running back Frank Gore. In Harbaugh’s coaching debut, the 49ers defense did its part against Seattle by forcing three turnovers and adding five sacks of Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Justin Smith and Parys Haralson each posted two sacks and Ray McDonald added one. But it was special teams play that provided the winning margin in Harbaugh’s first NFL coaching victory.
Ted Ginn turned the tide against Seattle in the fourth quarter when he returned two kicks for 49ers touchdowns within 59 seconds. Ginn raced 102 yards on a kickoff to score, then moments later added a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown. He finished the game with 268 return yards, a franchise record, and became the first 49ers player to score on a kickoff and punt in the same game.
Kicker David Akers chipped in with 49ers field goals of 27, 24, 31 and 18 yards as special teams racked up 27 points in the 33-17 win over Seattle. The 49ers sole offensive touchdown came on a one-yard run by quarterback Alex Smith.
The victory began a new era for the 49ers and rekindled one of the NFL’s hottest rivalries.
To see artifacts and memorabilia from the 49ers storied history, including interactive highlight videos, visit the 49ers Museum presented by Sony. Museum guests also can get a closer look at Coach Harbaugh’s favorite game and practice outfit, or read a 1986 pre-draft scouting report on Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh prepared by Mike Holmgren. For more information on Museum tickets, hours and content, visit levisstadium.com/Museum. For group pricing call 415-GO-49ERS.