Was Harbaugh's PED swipe at Seahawks a mistake?
Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh both coached their respective teams to 11 victories in 2012. (AP)
The hostility between the 49ers and the division rival Seattle Seahawks reached new heights last week. This offseason, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh weighed in on the suspensions handed out to a number of Seattle's players for use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
"It has no place in an athlete's body. Play by the rules,'' Harbaugh said. ''You always want to be above reproach, especially when you're good, because you don't want people to come back and say, 'They're winning because they're cheating.'"
His remarks didn't go unnoticed. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner expressed his disapproval of Harbaugh's comments.
"He’s never gonna be out there lined up against me. I wish he would. I’d put my hands around his neck,” Browner said.
In the wake of a flurry of animosity between the two teams, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has decided to take a more diplomatic approach. In an NFL Network interview, he had nothing but praise for Harbaugh and the 49ers.
"They’ve done a marvelous job since Jim took over and they’ve done it all on the field. We respect that our division has really changed, we’ve changed along with it, and every single game we play is the biggest rival that we would ever know. . . . They’ve done some really cool things and play exciting football, and we love matching up with the division," said Carroll.
His comments are especially surprising considering the personal rivalry between Harbaugh and Carroll that dates back to their days coaching college football. In 2009, Harbaugh's underdog Stanford squad pulled off an upset over Carroll's USC team.
After pushing the score to 48-21 with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Harbaugh opted to keep running up the score by attempting a two-point conversion, prompting Carroll to angrily ask Harbaugh, "What's your deal?".
Carroll's commendation of Jim Harbaugh could put an end to the war of words that has erupted this offseason, but it's the battle on the field that matters. The 49ers and Seahawks will face off in Seattle in Week Two of the upcoming season.