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Lowell Cohn: 49ers defense is the silencer in bitter rivalry

  • Eric Wright intercepts Russell Wilson on the last play of the game. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks, 19-17 on Sunday, December 8, 2013.
    (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Because, really, this was a Harbaugh win. Harbaugh played quarterback like a strong safety.

He liked the hit-and-be-hit part of football. And he teaches his team to hit hard within the rules and to beat up and beat the other team. He wants a defense that makes the other team — Seattle — stop and wonder and worry.

Someone asked Harbaugh if he gave words of encouragement to Kaepernick after he threw an interception. The question went through the various synapses in Harbaugh's brain. You could see him thinking.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

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He said, "Just similar things I told various players throughout the game. 'Just keep fighting. It's going to be a long game. Just keep fighting.' Kept reiterating that to several guys. But they didn't need to hear that. There was very little talk, very little motivational-type of talk. They didn't need to hear anything about how to play."

That quote expresses the very essence of Harbaugh football. Don't stop. Don't even stop to talk. Keep playing.

His defense frustrated and controlled the Seahawks, the same Seahawks who had murdered the Saints six days earlier, who murdered the Niners Week 2. Sunday's game was grim the way close games are grim between two good teams, grim the way a serious contest is grim.

In this context, you could say grim equals glorious.

This is what the 49ers' defense did to the Seattle offense. They muted the running game with Marshawn Lynch, hard to do considering Lynch approaches the line of scrimmage like a runaway Bekins van. The 49ers' pass rush bothered Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. The defense didn't beat him up, but it worried him, troubled him and raised the degree of difficulty of throwing good passes.

You could see Wilson was bothered, could see him want to pass and then pull down the ball or slide in the pocket buying time because receivers weren't open or he was in a bad position to throw — a fleeing position. You saw this is lot.

The Niners' defense was superb. And it won the game.


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