As a life long Niner fan that currently lives in Seattle, it has been a daunting task keeping my emotions in check over the last two contests. I've had to endure my share of verbal abuse from the 12th Man with no rest in sight. It reminded me of another time in my life where I didn't handle the criticism as well from either Cowboy or Packer fans. As I started thinking about that time, an epiphany occurred to me: The Niners have and will overcome their rivals. This will include Seattle.
Now, I can start earlier, but I'm going to concentrate on the transition from Walsh to Seifert to Marriucci, then from Erickson to Nolan to Singletary and now to Harbaugh. Those years encompassed alot of grief, but ended in success.
Walsh never had a problem defeating Dallas as the myth lives on. Seifert on the other hand inherited a rival team that was quickly re-built based on alot of draft picks from the Herschel Walker trade to Minnesota. I'll give credit where it is due; having draft picks is one thing, but knowing how to use them is completely different. Dallas drafted extremely well under Jimmy Johnson.
On January 17, 1992, the Niners played host to the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship game. Dallas was on the upswing under then head coach Jimmy Johnson. Led by Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, Michael Irvin, Alvin Harper, Jay Novacek, and a great offensive line, the Cowboys could score with anyone in the league at that time. The Cowboys defense was a sure tackling, talented group led by Tony Casillas, Ken Norton, Jr., and a trade acquisition from the Niners by the name of Charles Haley. Haley's added speed rushing ability was the missing link needed to make this team a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The Niners lost 30-20. That game left a bitter taste in my mouth as I thought the Niners had left alot of points on the field. I waited patiently for another opportunity the following year where my Niners would vindicate themselves.
On January 23, 1993, the Niners got their chance. This time, the game was in Dallas. That was the only difference as the Niners lost 38-21. This was the game where it was reported that Eddie D. turned to then President Carmen Policy and stated "We will never be embarrassed like that again".
I believed in those words from my favorite team's owner. The internet didn't exist at that time. I bought football magazines like crazy looking for what moves the Niners were either contemplating or rumored to be contemplating. When Free Agency opened up that year, Policy didn't waste anytime signing Richard Dent, Rickey Jackson, Gary Plummer, Toi Cook, etc. The most brilliant move was weakening a Dallas LB corp that caused Rickey Watters fits by signing Ken Norton, Jr. The Niners also had a successful draft moving up to take Legendary Bryant Young, Lee Woodall, William "Bar None" Floyd, etc.
Then it happened. Rumors were all over t.v. shows, sports radio, and ESPN about how Deion Sanders was contemplating joining the NIners for a SB run. When Policy got Deion signed, I couldn't wait to face the Cowboys again. The Niners and their fan base got a preview of the NFC Championship when the Niners defeated Dallas 21-14 in a regular season game. I didn't care if it was a regular season game as I was just happy it was a victory.
On January 15, 1994, the two teams once again met at Candlestick Park. I remember before my nerves had calmed down, the Niners were already winning thanks to three costly Cowboy turnovers. By the end of the game, I was so elated at defeating the mighty Cowboys that the Super Bowl was almost an after thought. San Diego thought the same thing as the Niners claimed Number Five easily over the Chargers.
Then came Green Bay under Bay Area native son Mike Holmgren. The Niners were led by Steve Marriucci then. I loved that guy. He deserved better, but I digress.
On January 6, 1996, the Niners and Green Bay danced in the second round of the playoffs where GB was victorious 27-17. I was crushed, but I thought that GB was hot at the right time of year. We'll get 'em next year I thought.
I was wrong. On January 5, 1997, GB decimated the Niners at Lambeau Field 35-14 on their way to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. I thought that this wasn't fair. We had finally defeated the Dallas nemesis only now to be fighting with GB.
Ok, next year, we'll be ready for them. "They got hot at the right time and last year was their year. This is our year." That's what I was telling myself. Then on January 11, 1998, GB thumped the Niners 23-10 at Candlestick, again. Injuries had played a major role in this defeat as Adam Walker was our starting RB and was playing with a cast on his arm. Not a good sign.
I was dejected. How could my favorite team lose to GB again in the playoffs. Then January 3, 1999 came. It was the first round of the playoffs and the Niners were once again playing host to the Packers at Candlestick. I was worried. This time, a stumbling Steve Young found a covered Terrell Owens in the endzone for the go ahead Touchdown. Yes! The demons had been exercised! Victory at last. Well, until we lost Garrison Hearst to injury and lost to those filthy birds down in Hotlanta 20-18.
Now, flash forward to November 19, 2006. The Niners had been a doormat for Seattle under Erickson. Seattle ruled the roost in the Niner's absence during the Donahue/Erickson years. Nolan replaced Erickson as head coach and was swept in his first year by the Seahawks.
In Nolan's second year, the Niners pulled off the improbable by defeating a Mike Holmgren led Seahawk team 20-14. Frank Gore ran for a career-high 212 yards on his way to topping the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The Seahawks offense turned the ball over five times during the game.
Later in that same season on December 14, 2006, an Alex Smith led offense aided the Niners to a 24-14 victory over the Seahawks at then Qwest Stadium in a monsoon. For the first time in years, the Niners had swept the Seahawks.
Seahawk fans didn't forget that in 2007 and neither did the Seahawks who swept the Niners in return.
In 2008, both the Niners and Seahawks won at opposing stadiums. This was the year Singletary dropped trough to inspire his team. It had an effect, but not the one Singletary intended.
In 2009, both teams won at home and lost on the road against each other. The same thing in 2010.
In 2011, it was different as Jim Harbaugh took over as Niners head coach. The first meeting at Candlestick Park ended in a 33-17 thumping thanks to two touchdown returns by Ted Ginn, Jr. The second meeting was at Qwest in late December. Larry Grant, filling in for an injured Patrick Willis, was able to strip Seattle's QB in the waning moments to cement the victory 19-17.
Now comes 2012. The bad blood between the coaches is now spilling over to the players. The first contest was a defensive struggle at Candlestick with the Niners winning 13-6. The rematch last December now lives in infamy as the Seahawks clobbered the Niners 42-13.
Now we are current as of last Sunday's game.
I'm sure that if I'm pissed off about this, that the players, coaches, and other fans are too. This is where Eric Mangini needs to earn his money. This is where Greg Roman stops being cute. This is where the players look inside themselves to beat the Seahawks. The newer players like Dorsey, Reid, Lemonier, Patton, etc now know what this rivalry is about and that losing to Seattle leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. It's like french kissing an ugly girl who smokes.
This is also where we the fans put up with nonsense from the 12th man...until December 8, 2013 and/or maybe in the playoffs. It's not how you start the season as much as how you end it.
If history is a teacher of anything, we see that the Seahawks may have the upper hand right now, but the Niners will rise and overcome this challenge as they have against both Dallas and Green Bay. History is on the Niners' side. In HarBaalke I trust.