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Despite the obvious show of poor sportsmanship from one individual after the game-clinching play, the Seahawks and 49ers showed healthy doses of mutual respect on Sunday.
Coaches Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll gave more than just the cursory post-game handshake when they met at midfield. And the young quarterbacks were exemplary when they shook hands and embraced afterward.
As captured on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson met on the field following the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
Wilson: “Hey, great game, man.”
Kaepernick: "Hey, good luck to you. Go get yourself a ring, baby."
And as badly as Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman conducted himself with his comments about Michael Crabtree and his "choke" gesture directed at Kaepernick, he also had a couple of positive interactions with 49ers players.
On "NFL Total Access" on the NFL Network, Sherman and 49ers receiver Quinton Patton were shown embracing. Then, Sherman went over to LaMichael James and asked, “Hey, you all right?” James exited briefly in the first half with a neck injury.
Obviously, the time for post-game handshakes is after the game -- not 10 seconds after a game-clinching interception that spells the end of the season for one of the teams.
That’s when Sherman aggressively pursued Crabtree to rub it in after Kaepernick’s pass attempted in the end zone was intercepted. Sherman slapped Crabtree on his butt, extended his hand and said disingenuously, “Helluva game. Helluva game.”
The TV broadcast of the game also captured the coaches sharing a good moment at midfield. In November 2009, Harbaugh and Carroll took part in a memorable post-game "What's your deal?" exchange after Stanford attempted a two-point conversion late in a 55-21 victory over USC. This time, it was a lot different.
“I congratulated him and his team moving on and wished them good luck,” Harbaugh said Tuesday during his season-ending press conference. “And he had some very nice things to say as well. I think everybody saw the same thing in terms of the way the game was played. Great credit to the players that played in the game and to the coaches that coached in the game. It was a great football game."
Harbaugh continued talking about the Seahawks.
“They’re an outstanding, worthy opponent," he said. "That’s one thing about a rivalry that is a wonderful thing in football, at any level, it makes both teams aspire to be better, to be great. And they had a phenomenal year. So far they’ve done it better than anybody else has.”