September 13, 2013
Top 10: Seahawks Beat Niners! (UPDATED)
In the 37-year history of the Seattle Seahawks, there have been BIGGER regular season games than Sunday's showdown with the San Francisco 49ers, but you'd have a hard time finding an example of a game more highly ANTICIPATED than this one. The teams are divisional rivals (and might just be the two best teams in the NFL), they both play a similar, brutal style of football, it's on the national stage of SNF on NBC, and they genuinely, whole-heartedly HATE each other. Also, the game is being played at Seahawks Stadium, where Seattle flattened SF 42-13 on SNF last December. The Niners want payback. The Seahawks want to prove they are the best team in the NFC West (and the Twelve Army is aspiring to set a Guinness World Record for Crowd Noise). Both teams know tonight's game could decide not just the division, but home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. A game in week 2 of the NFL season doesn't get any bigger than this one.
The divisional rivalry between the Seahawks and Niners is barely a decade old, and San Francisco has only been Seattle MAIN nemesis since Jim Harbaugh's doucetastic rule began in 2011. Before then, the Niners were usually more worthy of pity and disgust than sincere hatred. Even including the last two seasons (where SF has won the division twice, reached the NFC Championship Game in 2011 and the Super Bowl in 2012), the Seahawks have out-performed the 49ers in every measurable category of team performance since joining the NFC West.
A long time ago, I admired the Niners. Bill Walsh was a genius who changed the game for the better (and was a HUGE influence on both Mike Holmgren and Pete Carroll, who were assistant coaches in San Francisco), Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were class acts who also happened to be two of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and the organization oozed cool professionalism. Back in the 1990s, I vigorously rooted for them to beat the detestable Cowboys every year, and one of my favorite non-Seahawks moments in NFL history was when Steve Young's Niners slayed Dallas in the 1994 NFC Championship. Those old Niners showed that you could win, and win big, by outsmarting your opponents, rather than just beating them into submission. In the early days of the Holmgren epoch, I LOVED the notion that the Seahawks might evolve into an echo of those old Niners teams in the 21st century.
Then realignment happened, and everything changed. There was T.O. and his fucking sharpie on MNF, our failed coach Dennis Erickson taking over in SF, the Niners becoming not just bad, but laughably inept mid-decade, and then Mike Singletary: The Anti-Walsh. Instead of cerebral, intelligent football? Undisciplined, thuggish caveman ball, coupled with an unearned swagger that lathered up a frothy hatred for the Niners from Seattle to Phoenix to St. Louis.
Harbaugh's coaching skills have allowed the talented Niners to fulfill their vast potential, but the current iteration of the San Francisco 49ers still dishonors the franchise's long, storied history. Harbaugh has managed to be even more despicable than Singletary, Colin Kaepernick comes off like a can of Axe Body Spray that's been brought to life as a human via some ancient curse, and the Niners are backed by one of the most annoying fan bases in the NFL- A horde of dipshits who love to rub decades-old glory in other people's faces.
The Seahawks are 14-14 all-time against the 49ers, including a 12-10 record since Seattle joined the NFC West in 2002. Here's our Top 10 wins over San Francisco:
10. October 7, 1979: Seahawks 35 @ 49ers 24
The weirdest thing about this one? Rookie QB Joe Montana didn't play for the Niners, but future Hall-of-Famer and infamous stabber O.J. Simpson did. Dr. Dan Doornink scored twice and the Seahawks started an 8-3 streak to end 1979 with a 9-7 record.
9. September 26, 2004: Seahawks 34, 49ers 0
Ahh, the good old days of just straight-up beating the shit out of awful Niners teams. The Seahawks forced four SF turnovers, Shaun Alexander scored thrice, and San Francisco was shut out for the first time since 1977.
8. December 21, 1997: Seahawks 38, Niners 9
The Niners came in with the NFC's #1 seed locked up, and treated this like a glorified preseason game. Despite that, this was still a rousing win. Warren Moon wrapped up his spectacular 1997 Pro Bowl season with four TD passes, including two to Joey Galloway. 1997 was my first season as a Seahawks season ticket holder, so that game has an added bit of personal significance...
7. November 20, 2005: Seahawks 27 @ Niners 25
This was one of the shakiest performances of Seattle's 2005 NFC Championship season, but it showed the Hawks' ability to pull out a victory even when they weren't playing their best football. The Seahawks had a 27-12 lead going into the 4th, but they allowed Ken Dorsey (Wait... What?) to rally the 49ers to within a 2-point conversion in the final seconds. But this was 2005, NOT 2003 or 2004- This lead wouldn't get blown. Under pressure Dorsey's pass fell harmlessly to the turf and Seattle's sprint to XL continued unabated.
6. October 12, 2003: @ Seahawks 20, Niners 19
This was a big early-season ESPN Sunday Night test for the 2003 Seahawks. Even though the Hawks came in 3-1 and SF was 2-3, the Niners were defending division champs and just a year earlier T.O. had humiliated Seattle on MNF with his Sharpie stunt. The boys in blue ran out to a 17-0 lead, which evaporated into a 19-17 4th-quarter deficit. The Twelve Army watched anxiously as Josh Brown booted Seattle to a 20-19 lead with five minutes left, which was immediately followed by a Frisco march down the field.
Thankfully Chad Brown forced a Garrison Hearst fumble in the final minutes, and the Seahawks' march towards the 2003 playoffs continued.
5. September 30, 2007: Seahawks 23 @ Niners 3
Remember a few years ago, when the national football press seemed to insist every fall that the glorious revival of the 49ers was jusssssst around the corner? Early in the 2007 season, a trip to Candlestick was supposed to be the changing of the guard. Then this happened:
Yup, I have no problem reveling in the memory of Rocky Bernard smashing Alex Smith's shoulder into meat-flavored goop. I'd love to see Brandon Mebane or Red Bryant do likewise to Colin Kapernick.
4. December 6, 2009: Seahawks 20, Niners 17
The Niners arrived at Seahawks Stadium needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive against the (frankly pathetic) MoraHawks. Though 2009 was an unmitigated clusterfuck, this was a spectacularly satisfying win... As I wrote in this space back then:
Let me say this clearly: Fuck the Niners. Fuck 'em. For all the bluster and chest-beating and media slobbering over them, these Niners haven't accomplished DICK yet. Nothing. Zilch. 2009 will be ANOTHER season that will end with them in their usual place: sitting at home, watching the playoffs. Once again, with feeling: FUCK the Niners.
All week all we heard about was how Coach Bug Eyes and the big, mean 49ers were going to come into Seattle, pistol whip our players, pillage Pioneer Square and generally lay waste to all things Seahawks. Mr. Commercial Star Mike Singletary would motivate his talented minions to subjugate our poor, defenseless Seahawks on their way to reclaiming what the media sees as the SF birthright: the NFC West title.
The Seahawks decided not to play the victim in this perfectly composed narrative. Of course, it helped that Singletary passed up 3 sure points by arrogantly going for it on 4th and goal early in the game. It also helped that the over-rated Frank Gore killed a Niners scoring drive in the 4th by coughing up the ball, and that Michael Crabtree was scared shitless by a charging Lawyer Milloy on what could have been SF's winning TD in the waning minutes.
3. September 12, 2010: Seahawks 31, Niners 6
One year later, the Seahawks would notch an even more satisfying victory over SF in Pete Carroll's first game as Seattle's Head Coach. As I wrote back then:
It was rapturously awesome to see the Seahawks not just beat the 49ers, but physically punish and abuse them. Alex Smith was never going to be the next Montana or Young, but today we saw him just as lost and helpless as he was in 2007. The only difference between today and that game at the Stick three years ago was that Smith's shoulder survived.
When was the last time the Hawks delivered such a cathartic win? Such a statement that not only would Seattle win the day, but that the future belonged to us too? Simultaneously, our hated rivals tumbled back into Limbo, into the dreary knowledge that the glorious Niner restoration STILL isn't happening. In the words of R.E.M., The Future Never Happened.
There's already a lot of Seahawks fans trying to downplay this win. Fuck that. I predicted that the Seahawks would win the NFC West, and now I GUARANTEE they will... You, my friends, will have a home playoff game to watch in January. I will be at Qwest screaming until my soul spills out, and Mike Singletary and his Niners will be at home, watching on television.
And indeed, my prophecies of 2010 came to pass...
2. December 27, 2003: Seahawks 24 @ Niners 17
The Seahawks went to Candlestick Park for a Saturday afternoon game just after Xmas, needing a win and some help the following day to qualify for the postseason for only the 2nd time since 1988. Seattle entered the game at 9-6, but sported a pathetic 1-6 road record coming into the game. Niners coach Dennis Erickson was hoping for a win to finish the season 8-8 (which was a habit he picked up back in Seattle during the 1990s), and to exact vengeance upon his old employers and the coach who replaced him in Seattle.
The Hawks quickly fell behind 14-0, and lamentations of "same old Seahawks" rang out across the land like church bells. Another winning but playoff-free season loomed.. It was '78, '79, '86, and '90 allll over again... but the Seahawks clawed and gouged back into the game, and then something amazing happened late in the 3rd:
Matt Hasselbeck threw a PERFECT pass to Koren Robinson in the back of the end zone... and K-rob (for once) HELD ONTO IT and got both feet in bounds. 21-17 Seahawks. Josh Brown extended the lead to 7, and Shaun Alexander ate up most of the 4th quarter on the ground. The D stopped a last-gasp Niners drive, and Seattle triumphed in a game very few expected them to win.
1. December 23, 2012: Seahawks 42, Niners 13
This game was our announcement to the football world: The Seahawks have arrived, and they are going to lay waste to the NFL. After the Hawks had already run out to a 14-0 lead, Kam Chancellor DESTROYED Vernon Davis with a clean (but unfairly flagged) hit. The Niners were in range for an easy field goal that would cut Seattle's lead to 11, but Red Bryant and Richard Sherman had other plans. Big Red blocked the kick, and Sherm scooped and scored. Seahawks Stadium was delirious and deafening, and the rout was ON.
Russell Wilson threw four TD passes (two to Doug Baldwin), and Marshawn Lynch gashed the Niners vaunted defense for 130 yards and two TDs. Seattle defense ERASED Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore, and 67,000 (or so) Twelves went home happy and hopeful.
The promise of that glorious December evening will be fulfilled, starting this Sunday night.
What do you think, sirs?