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Here is a link to my column about the 49ers’ win over the Seahawks. The full column appears below.

SAN FRANCISCO –Sunday’s 49ers’ 19-17 win against the rival Seahawks was a Jim Harbaugh kind of win. Pure Harbaugh.

Before I explain that, I’ll set the scene.

It was a few minutes after the game ended. Harbaugh walked into the dungeon below Candlestick that serves as an interview room. He hopped onto the stage and stood behind the lectern. I asked how he would describe the play of his defense which, frankly, won the game for the Niners. Harbaugh stared at me.

Then he said, “Boy, just running and hitting, Lowell. Hitting and running. Competing.”

I thought he might start running around the room looking for something to hit or at least compete with. Or maybe he would start to fly. His eyes were wide with pure euphoria.

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.

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.

It also made a statement. The whole team made a statement. Here is the statement:

The 49ers won the game they absolutely had to win. This win will not give the 49ers the division title. That ship has sailed. But they needed to win, anyway. Needed to show their pedigree. Their pride. They refused to let Seattle clinch on the Niners’ home field which will not be their home field much longer. And they projected themselves as a dangerous force in the playoffs wherever their journey takes them.

Harbaugh would not say it was a statement game. He doesn’t like defining things. But Donte Whitner, the team orator, sure does.

“We didn’t get any turnovers today,” Whitner said, “but we were being extremely physical with the team people call the most physical team in football. We felt it was a statement game. We felt it wasn’t an ordinary game because it’s not. That’s our rival. They’re on top of the division. We feel like this is our division. We felt like we had to make a statement today. We believe it will come down to us and them, probably in their place. We have to go there where we haven’t won.

“It’s going to be a loud environment. It’s going to be for the big one. We understand that we go up there, we play good defense. We don’t turn the ball over. We can beat them in their house.”

Here’s what he said about Russell Wilson: “In the last game, we understand what they were trying to do. They wanted to break him out of contain and play playground football. Our guys did a good job of holding their lanes.”

So, the defense kept Wilson out of the playground and on the field.

NaVorro Bowman, slow talking, intense, serious, got asked the “statement” question. “You guys kind of counted us out already,” he said, “felt like Seattle had our number. So, I think it’s a statement game to the world just to let you guys know this is still our division. Until a team takes it from us, we will continue to rep this division the right way.”

Bowman’s words were brave and forthright. I, in particular, counted out the Niners. If in some small way I helped motivate them on Sunday, I’m pleased. I don’t want part of Bowman’s salary — there are conflict of interest issues. A simple atta boy will suffice.

Bowman had some other good quotes. Like how the defense controlled Wilson. “He requires a lot of attention,” Bowman said. “The focus was on Wilson, to keep him in the cage. And I think we did that today.

And here is Bowman on the rivalry: “I love it. I love it. Some games you win or you get up early, teams fold. But this game it requires the full 60 minutes.”

Can we talk a little reality?

The 49ers have improved from earlier in the season, apparently improved. Their offense is still the ugly cousin to the handsome defense, the cousin the defense wants to lock in the broom closet out of sheer embarrassment. The offense must improve for the playoffs.

Because, make no mistake, the 49ers and Seahawks aren’t done with each other. They will meet one day soon at the crossroads and the crossroads are in Seattle.

And the Niners must do it all over again.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.


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Comments

21 Comments

  1. Johnc

    This was the “fight” that Habaugh had to win. It was a knock down brawl. Yes, the defense won the game, but kudos to the Niner Field goal kicker as well.

    December 8th, 2013 9:34 pm

  2. mendozaline

    Lowell, you always tell us that you are a journalist and not a fan. Why would you be “pleased” that you helped to motivate the 49ers? Would you be displeased if you helped to motivate the 49ers opponent?

    Sounds like there might be a bit of fandom in you.

    December 8th, 2013 9:53 pm

  3. CohnZohn

    mendozaline, I was joking. I am not pleased or displeased. I was commenting on Bowman’s comment which was, strangely, about the media.

    December 8th, 2013 9:59 pm

  4. Dr. Feelgood

    Here’s the problem I see with the Niners. Five scores but only one TD. The Red Zone issues persist. The score should have been more like 27-17, but they settle for, or at just glad to get, field goals.
    Still, defense like that can take a team a long, long way.

    December 8th, 2013 10:04 pm

  5. Jeremy

    Can you blame Navarro Lowell? First you start your week railing on Kap for not talking to you more, then you call him makes (“one read Kap”), then you pick Seattle to win, then you give defense all the credit, then you are bewildered how a player can possibly have a beef with the media? Wow!

    December 8th, 2013 10:27 pm

  6. ASM

    Lowell,

    I find it odd that you have to emphasize every week that you don’t root for or against the Niners. I don’t go in every day to present data with a disclaimer that I have not doctored any of the results. My team would commit me to a psychiatric ward if I even suggested that. I mean no disrespect but why do you think you have to proclaim something that is a basic part of your job? If your columns are perceived as leaning one way that is picked up by the readers is it their fault?

    FYI, if this does not make it past your moderation think about your inability to respond to reasonable professional criticism.

    December 8th, 2013 10:34 pm

  7. k.g.

    The path to the Super Bowl will go through Seattle. If the 49ers, & Seahawks meet again in Seattle the game played there will be a whole different story….trust.

    December 8th, 2013 10:49 pm

  8. Dennis

    The offense played even with Seattle’s offense. I am not sure they are that ugly.

    December 9th, 2013 6:22 am

  9. CohnZohn

    ASM, I discussed my impartiality in response to a comment on the blog.

    December 9th, 2013 7:29 am

  10. Darren

    Hey Lowell. That was the worse win ever by the 49ers. This is nothing more then high school football with this team. The QB can’t throw. Gore is too old, needs to go. Defense is not impressive. I can name 5 other NFL games that were more exciting then the 49ers game, even the Min/Bal game was more thrilling, but too bad Bay Area fans are not allowed good NFL football as we’re stuck with 49ers/Raiders, unless you free yourself of the evil cable company saddling the region with bad games including the 49ers. CK has GOT TO GO in my opinion. Worse QB ever. This is called opinion, not trolling so please respect the other side. This win by the 49ers made me really sick. I agree with the SEattle player too, badly called game by the refs that need to be fired.

    December 9th, 2013 8:42 am

  11. Darren

    No way KG. First of all, Seattle needs to drop 2 games and it will not happen. I expect Seattle to put up 40 points next 3 games, guaranteed. An angry team in Seattle is going to be fired up to put the paddle to the NY Giants after that 37 to 14 stinker in San Diego. Wilson is going to outduel Eli and I’m a 49er fan that says it, but I don’t agree with how the 49ers are coached, I don’t like CK, and I don’t like Gore.

    December 9th, 2013 8:45 am

  12. Dan

    They beat a very good team who played Monday night and had to travel by two points.

    December 9th, 2013 9:01 am

  13. Tommy CostaRica

    Nobody mentioned that Wilson only had one rushing attempt for only 2 yards. That was the game right there. Sherman is whining about the refs, but this was a game where the refs weren’t calling obvious pass interference and holding calls against the Hawks. There appears to be no consistency with the refs league wide, the call made against the Browns for pass interference in the end zone was bogus and gave the game to the Pats. It’s frustrating, but we won in spite of refs non calls. Shrman is a crybaby he sang the same song after the Indianapolis loss. We’re going to have one more shot at those guys in there own crib which will be an even more satisfying win!

    December 9th, 2013 9:20 am

  14. Streetglide

    Jeez, my comment didn’t make it again? Hmmm… where did I go wrong?

    December 9th, 2013 9:48 am

  15. CohnZohn

    Streetglide, Please don’t take offense. I thought some of your language went over the line and I’m the one who gets in trouble.

    December 9th, 2013 9:59 am

  16. Brett

    This Darren guy is a trip.

    December 9th, 2013 10:18 am

  17. mbabco

    Tommy CostaRica – You called the win. You promised to remind us of it and deserve to do so!

    December 9th, 2013 10:28 am

  18. Streetglide

    “Streetglide, Please don’t take offense. I thought some of your language went over the line and I’m the one who gets in trouble…”

    No problem Lowell. If those &*@@#$ don’t like my %**&*% they can &&## and @@# the @%&&* with a @!!#$…

    December 9th, 2013 10:49 am

  19. Jonathan

    I watched part of Harbaugh’s postgame press conference (boy, do I need a life). I watched and heard your question. I disagree that he stared at you before answering. I did not perceive a meaningful pause between the end of your question and the beginning of Harbaugh’s answer. In fact,I thought that he was throwing you an olive branch–or at least a sign of respect–by addressing you by name in his answer.

    December 9th, 2013 11:37 am

  20. CohnZohn

    Jonathan, I agree on the olive branch and, sure, maybe the pause was in my mind. It does that to me.

    December 9th, 2013 11:55 am

  21. Tommy CostaRica

    Lowell, thanks for not divulging my secret and denying me my 15 seconds Internet sports blogging fame!

    December 9th, 2013 3:36 pm

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