Here’s what Seattle coach Pete Carroll and 49er coach Jim Harbaugh had to say after the Seahawks’ 23-17 win Sunday:
COACH CARROLL: First off, it’s an incredible night of football here against a terrific football team. The 49ers are an amazing team, and they’ve proven that for years. Jim does a great job with the club and all their coaches. That’s a fantastic football team. We totally respect what they bring and the challenge that they made for us today.
The other thing I want to mention too is this extraordinary relationship we have with our fans. The 12s are just ‑‑ it’s just woven into the fabric of what the Seahawks are all about. I love the fact that we have this opportunity to go play in the Super Bowl and represent all of the Northwest and all our fans everywhere because they just deserve it. They just freaking deserve it. They’re the best. You hear guys say that all the time, but they are, so it’s pretty cool.
To play a game that goes all the way down to the last few seconds, you know, it wound up being a game of kind of a sloppy‑type of finish to this game it felt like. When we had a chance to go ahead and end it, we didn’t do a very good job of that. But what did happen is we threw a tremendous night of defense out there. With one exception or a couple exceptions in there, we really played great D. Again, we needed it all the way down the stretch.
It was fitting that we’d finish it there with another turnover and a great play by Richard and Malcolm to end the game. What we did with the turnover thing, this is cool and we love so much. But we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to keep getting better. There are a lot of ways to do that.
I think just we’ll also say about John Schneider has been an unbelievable partner to do this with as we work for Paul and try to give him and represent his club and all. John has been unbelievable. Without him putting this thing together ‑‑ because you know, you’ve watched what’s happened. It it’s taken us years to put it together, but John’s as good as you can get, and just blessed to be able to do this with him, and I need him every step of the way. I wish he was up here with me.
So, that is kind of just wanted to make sure we get a couple things out there and get you started. What have you got?
Q. Can you take us through the go‑ahead? It was fourth down, we tried to figure out whether you’d bring Hauschka out. Just take us through what happened there.
COACH CARROLL: Well, let me just say it this way: We had some options there, and we wanted to try to get points and really we sent the field goal team out there to do it, and as we talked it over, it was beyond what Hauschka had done in pregame, and we said, okay, let’s not force that issue in hopes of him kicking a good ball right there. So we let it wind down to go ahead and take a shot.
The other option was, we weren’t going to punt it, so the other option was to go for it on fourth down. We had to wait it out. Once we realized we didn’t want to force that issue on him. So we waited it out, and had a great call and an incredible play by Russell and the protection that set it up, and Kearse comes through with an heroic touchdown pass to put us ahead there.
Q. Did the play change at all when you saw it was offsides and you had free play?
COACH CARROLL: There are things that happen in football like that sometimes that I’m not talking about.
Q. Can you talk about this point in the journey and what it’s like in that locker room right now?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, it’s a team that’s a very interesting team. Because as young as we are, they’re not acting young. They understand and they’re really excited about this accomplishment, you know, just this day and this game against the Niners and all. But they know we’re not done, so it’s a really good mentality.
I said going in that I thought we’d be fine about handling this and just gauging when they’ve been interviewed and as they talk to us and we watch them prepare, they stayed right in it. So there is nothing to think that anything else is going to be any different as we go through the two weeks to get ready. So it’s a group that’s different than you would think for such a young group. They have a mature mentality about them that’s really going to help us.
Q. Did you change anything in the second half to kind of contain things?
COACH CARROLL: Well, there are always some adjustments that we make. But what we really talked about on Friday was at this halftime we were going to talk about finishing in here. I told them that was going to be the topic. I said I’m telling you now so when you hear me say it in there I want you to really do something about it.
In the second half we outscored them 20‑7. Regardless of how it came about and how it looked and all, that was a great finish for these guys. That was what we needed to do. We needed to take the next step, finish this football game playing better than they did longer, and our guys got that done.
Q. How much were you trying to establish the running game in the first half and how big was Marshawn Lynch’s run?
COACH CARROLL: We didn’t get enough runs in the first half to get enough information, really. It was frustrating in that regard because we did want to run it. So we came out in the second half and third quarter to make sure that we could start to put our runs out there so we could get the information we needed so we could adjust. We just didn’t get enough done in the first half. At that time, Darrell did a great job of mixing stuff, and Marshawn came off the football really in great shape and really gave us some great plays. Of course the big one was the one, but we felt his consistency was really important for us to come back in the third quarter.
Q. What went into Alvin Bailey playing as much as he did.
COACH CARROLL: Really their guys, the big guys on the edge that we want to make sure to match up and not be even in size. We wanted to be better than that. We thought Alvin could help us out, and it seemed he did a nice job.
Q. What kind of adjustments did you make defensively against Kaepernick? Because he seemed to be able to do what he wanted in the first half, and then you really shut him down.
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, we were forced to keep our eyes on him. We had to play more zone just to make sure we could see him and come out of coverage to tackle him, and he still ran against us when we were playing zone in the first half. But we thought that would be the best idea to try to keep him in check a bit. That was hugely the factor in the first half. We noticed that until that was really the adjustment. It’s not just great mentality stuff, but we wanted to make sure we could see him when he took off so we could minimize those games.
Q. What’s it mean to you personally to get to the Super Bowl?
COACH CARROLL: You know, it’s interesting. Not until Sherm tips the ball to Malcolm did it even hit me. I’m talking about the whole preparation, the weeks coming in and all that that we have a chance to be in the Super Bowl. It never really hit me until that moment. All I can tell you is it’s quite a magical moment. You can’t quite grasp the reality of it is this really happening? Did we really do this? And it’s very, very special.
I know for the young guys too, and from the old guys to the young guys, we all got to share in that. It’s a big moment for everybody. I think maybe everybody sees it differently, feels it differently, but it’s very magical to know, okay, we’re going.
Q. Now that you’ve gotten to that point, getting there in four years. When you took over you envisioned this was always possible, but that it could happen this fast?
COACH CARROLL: I’m going to answer that, yeah, I wanted to do it the first year because that’s what my mindset was, and it didn’t work out. We did 7‑9 and kind of sneak our way into the playoffs that time. But this is exactly where we’d hoped to be, and these guys have heard nothing but that for years here. It started with taking charge of the NFC West. That’s where this begins because of this opportunity to play at home so that we capitalize on that.
So, it never happens quite quick enough, but we’re grateful that we finally have this chance.
Q. There was a lot of anticipation about two big‑time defenses and being a slugfest. There were some hellacious hits in that game. Could you compare that to anything that you’ve been through before, some physical football games?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, there are a lot of games we’ve had over the years. Every time we play these guys it feels like that. But it was a physical game, and I thought the game was officiated in a way that allowed the nature of the two teams to play. I don’t know what they would have done otherwise, but it seemed it was cool that happened. There were some great hits and great tackling.
We played the run great tonight except for Kaepernick. The yards don’t look like it, but one of the best nights we’ve had. Maybe that Rams game was like this at the line of scrimmage. It was a great, great game for the guys up front.
Q. This defense talks about wanting to be legendary and wanting to be the best. You probably can’t imagine a better opportunity than to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I think it’s an extraordinary opportunity to go against a guy that set all the records in the history of the game, and the incredible production that they put up this year. What a great challenge. He deserves to be there because of what he’s done this year with his team and that whole club, but we’re not going to take this challenge lightly. We’re going to go after this thing, and we’re not going into this game any other way but thinking that we’re going to win. And these guys don’t know any other way.
It will be a great match‑up. We’re grateful whoever came out of the AFC, if it was Brady and those guys, we’d love that too. But what a great match‑up to go to New York.
Q. Did you expect KJ Wright to play that much?
COACH CARROLL: We just hoped he would play a lot. I don’t know how many plays he ended up playing. I asked Kenny during the game. He said he was getting in and out. I didn’t keep track of it myself. But I’m glad he played football. It was great.
Q. What did you say to Russell after the game and what was his mindset?
COACH CARROLL: We were just relishing in the moment that we had gotten it done. We had kind of come together with the clear thought that this is what we were shooting for and this is what we wanted to do. We’re so fortunate to have him. He’s such an amazing kid and leader and character and performer and all that stuff that, look what he did. Look what he did as the quarterback in this club. Just an incredible run he’s had with us. We’ve all done it, but he’s been in the middle of all of it.
Q. (No microphone) what you want from your team and the defense to close it out?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, if we just would have put the ball in the end zone from the 5 and knocked it down. We just screwed it up, and that’s why everything else worked out beautifully. It was exactly staged the way we’d like to see it. We close it out with the big momentum and the turnovers at the end of the game. When they have to come back, we had hoped to be in that situation thinking we could do that. It happened.
Kam’s play was a great play. The ball was on the ground, all over the place. Cliff and Mike Bennett are making their play. But we just didn’t finish it. It felt sloppily that it turned out like that so.
Q. Did you explain about the 4th and 1, and what happened on the fumble and it was recovered by Marshawn, and the referees explained how possession worked and that kind of thing?
COACH CARROLL: No, they didn’t. They didn’t explain it. That is the easiest way for me to answer, because I don’t know how to tell you anything about that. Sorry. Thanks for being with us.
And here’s Harbaugh:
Q. Obviously Navarro looked like he had the ball there. He was down. Did they not let you challenge that?
COACH HARBAUGH: Correct. They said I could not challenge it.
Q. What was the explanation for that?
COACH HARBAUGH: That’s just the rule they said. Just a loophole in the rule. Once they rule it a fumble, it’s in the field of play and the ball is ruled recovered by the Seahawks and it can’t be reviewed by me. So I asked them what happens if I do challenge it, and he said that you’ll lose a timeout and we won’t review it. They said they would not review the play.
Q. What happened to Navarro?
COACH HARBAUGH: Navarro injured his knee.
Q. You don’t know the severity?
COACH HARBAUGH: Preliminarily it looks like an ACL, so tough break for Navarro.
Q. How do you assess Colin Kaepernick’s game? He came out so well.
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, first of all, the way I assess it is not many people get to be in this arena of competition at this level. I thought our guys had tremendous fight. I think our guys are great football players and congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks. They were also in this arena and won the football game and they’re moving on. That’s how I assess it.
Q. Do you think you’ve played better than Seattle for most of the game?
COACH HARBAUGH: No, I’m not saying that. Congratulations to Seattle. They played a winning game. They won the football game, and they made some very big plays. We made some very big plays. It was a 15‑round fight right down to the last.
Q. Colin had three turnovers in the fourth quarter. Were they playing him in a different way or was their defense doing something different?
COACH HARBAUGH: No.
Q. What do you account for for the turnovers?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, he got flushed on the one fumble and did a nice job running the rim and struck him with the ball. The first interception of the boundary, Kam Chancellor was ‑‑ Kap never saw him. He buzzed out underneath the double move by Anquan, and the final interception, ball thrown to Crabtree could have gone either way. If that goes by an inch or two, Crabtree catches it for a touchdown and we win.
But Richard Sherman made a terrific play, made a great play, athletic play batting the ball, getting a hand on it and deflecting the pass. That’s what I saw.
Q. Was that final play, what were some of the options on that final pass, and who else was out there that he could have gone to? Was that what you wanted him to do go for Crabtree on that?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah, he had a double move on Crabtree’s side, and we had a three‑man combination on the other side. Like I said, it was a pretty darn well‑thrown ball, and from where I was looking, it looked like an inch the other way it’s a touchdown pass. But give credit to the Seahawks and Richard made the play.
Q. How tough is it getting so close in three years, Super Bowl, NFC Title game and then just coming up short?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, I mean, it’s great competition. Not many people get to be in this arena. Proud of our guys for the fight that they showed today and all season.
Q. Frank Gore had 14 yards rushing. Why wasn’t he able to get going?
COACH HARBAUGH: That’s a good question. I don’t have that answer right now.
Q. Was the idea to get Colin running early? He certainly took off a lot. Was that the game plan?
COACH HARBAUGH: Uh‑huh, yes.
Q. You get the ball back with 3 minutes plus, why not go hurry‑up faster than you did? A lot of time came off the clock there before you went into the hurry‑up?
COACH HARBAUGH: We wanted to get that first first down. I thought we were ‑‑ I thought time management was good. I thought we were in good position with the timeouts that we had, so that was the decision.
Q. Did Mike sustain a fracture?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yes, we think so, in the ankle.
Q. It was a tough fourth quarter for Colin, but first three quarters he was great. Did you really see big strides for him as the season went along and through these playoffs?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yes. Him, Colin and all our guys, they’re great football players. They have great fight. What more could a coach ask for? They truly believed it. Just one drive, one touchdown drive and we move on. That’s what our guys believed would happen and came up short.
Q. Lynch became much more effective as the game went on. Did he wear you guys down a little bit?
COACH HARBAUGH: He’s a great football player. I did not ‑‑ I can’t say that we got worn down, no. It was a 15‑rounder from where I was standing. Maybe you saw it differently.
Q. What was your message to the team? Was it similar to what you said here or what can you tell us about your message to the team?
COACH HARBAUGH: Yeah, similar.
Q. Any signs that this long road you’ve had going on all these road games caught up with you today at all?
COACH HARBAUGH: I didn’t see that from where I’m standing, no.
Q. If Navarro had been credited with that fumble recovery, do you think you guys would have won the game?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, because the very next play we recovered a fumble that put us on the 11‑yard line instead of the 1‑yard line, so I can’t say that, no. I can’t say that that had any factor in the game because of what happened the very next play.
Q. Do you have an idea what the status of Navarro’s injury?
COACH HARBAUGH: I believe preliminary is what I said it was. Preliminary it looks like an ACL injury.