Considering that the 49ers and Seahawks have NEVER posted winning records in the same season since Seattle joined the NFC West in 2002, these two teams have enjoyed a pretty good rivalry. West Coast supremacy and all that.
Well, the temperature gauge should bounce at least 15 degrees in 2010, thanks to the influx of some new blood, mostly on the Seattle side. Ponder these additions, and what they will bring to the feud.
SCOT McCLOUGHAN (SEA): Whatever the reasons for McCloughan’s sudden “mutual parting” from the 49ers about a month before the draft, you can bet there is a personal side to the rift. Now comes word, via ESPN’s Mike Sando, that McCloughan is joining the Seahawks’ front office in an as-yet-unreported role. He won’t be able to smack anyone in the mouth on the field – well, not legally – but the maneuverings for free agents and draft picks within the division just got a lot more interesting. And you can add some bonus points if brother David, another 49ers castoff, follows Scot to Seattle.
PETE CARROLL (SEA) AND TAYLOR MAYS (SF): Carroll coached Mays at USC, and the two enjoyed a close relationship. Mays is from Seattle. So when the Seahawks hired Carroll as their head coach, and it was clear that the team was looking for a safety in the draft, Mays naturally figured he was homeward bound. Instead, Seattle went for Earl Thomas of Texas. Mays made no attempt to hide his resentment, telling the world on draft day that Carroll had misled him about the skills he should be working on to become an NFL first-rounder. When the 49ers grabbed Mays in the second round, it set up a nice little chance for payback. Mays has said recently that he bears no hard feelings toward Carroll. That’s hard to believe. As former Niners RB Roger Craig said of Mays during the weekend festivities at Infineon Raceway, “I can’t wait till he plays against Seattle, cause I know his horns are gonna be ready to take some heads off, man.”
KEN NORTON JR. AND JEFF ULBRICH (SEA): You can bet there will be some fiery pregame words from two of the Seahawks’ new assistant coaches before the season opener at Seattle on Sept. 12. Norton (7) and Ulbrich (10) spent a combined 17 seasons playing linebacker for the 49ers. Now Norton is coaching the Seattle linebackers, while the recently retired Ulbrich is assistant special-teams coach. Both may still harbor affection for their old team. Both would love nothing more than to beat that team twice a year.
MIKE SOLARI (SF): After coaching the Seahawks’ offensive line for two seasons, Solari left the team early this year, reportedly after they informed the long-time tutor that he would moved to special teams. Shortly thereafter, he resurfaced in Santa Clara. And shortly after that, the 49ers gave him two first-round draft choices to work with on the line. Solari may know something about the vulnerabilities of the Seattle defensive line, having worked against that unit countless times in practice.
Yep, this rivalry is getting better all the time. I just wonder whom Mike Holmgren is rooting for.