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Originally published October 22, 2012 at 8:51 PM | Page modified October 23, 2012 at 1:11 PM

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Carroll, Harbaugh exchange comments about Seahawks' secondary

After 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh questioned whether the Seahawks' cornerbacks were playing within the rules, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he didn't see what the issue was.

Seattle Times staff reporter


Seahawks @ Detroit, 10 a.m., Ch.13

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49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he had some questions for the league about the way Seattle's cornerbacks defended his wide receivers last Thursday in San Francisco.

Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner had a pretty succinct answer after his team's practice Monday.

"It's obnoxious to me, to be honest," Browner said after Monday's practice. "They won the football game. We play a physical sport."

And Seattle plays it very physically with its two cornerbacks of unusual size in Browner — who is 6 feet 4 and coming off a Pro Bowl appearance — and Richard Sherman, who is 6 feet 3.

The 49ers completed 14 of 23 passes in their 13-6 victory over Seattle last week, but only six were to their wide receivers: four to Michael Crabtree and one apiece to Randy Moss and Kyle Williams. Harbaugh was asked Friday about his receivers getting locked down.

"I wouldn't use the words, 'locked up,' " Harbaugh said at a news conference Friday, according to CSN Bay Area. "We'll take that up with the officials and get their view of it."

He went on to expound on what he would be asking the league.

"What is this all being defined as?" Harbaugh continued. "Is it physical play within the rules? That's the biggest question. Is it within the rules what's happening? We have to ask that question. We have to know what the interpretation is."

This was the very same coach who one week earlier had issued a news release denouncing Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride for saying that 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith gets away with murder in terms of holding.

Harbaugh called that an "outrageous, irrational statement" and an "incendiary comment targeting one of the truly exemplary players in this league. It's obvious that the Giants coaching staff's sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating."

Remember that? Carroll did during his weekly radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday morning.

"Wasn't it just a couple weeks ago when they were talking about not doing things like that?" Carroll said. "The Giants? Kevin Gilbride or something like that? I thought there was something about that where we don't go out and express our concerns and all."

Carroll said he hadn't expected this to become an issue.

"I'm surprised that he felt like their receivers were so overwhelmed," Carroll said.

During his Monday news conference, Harbaugh declined to respond to that quote specifically.

"You pretty much know that we're from the sticks-and-stones school of approach," Harbaugh said, according to a transcript of the interview posted on CSN Bay Area. "So, calling us names isn't going to hurt us."

Carroll was asked Monday if he considered issuing a news release to address Harbaugh's comments, which Carroll said he did not. He did say he reviewed the game, paying special attention to the play of his cornerbacks.

"I just wanted to see what was the point," Carroll said. "I thought it was a very normal game. I thought our guys played really hard and tough and they did, too. And that's it. I don't really know what the reference was about, so I just hope it doesn't go any farther like to the league. There's no need for it to."


• Cornerback Walter Thurmond practiced with the Seahawks on Monday, returning from a broken fibula, which he suffered last season and reinjured in March. Carroll said Thurmond looked fast in practice, but did not say whether he would be activated for this week's game. Seattle has until Nov. 5 to activate Thurmond.

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