SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 49ers’ reward for beating the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers on the road is another game in an unfriendly environment. And the upcoming game against the Seahawks won’t be played in just any venue.
CenturyLink Field has turned into a house of horrors for the 49ers, with the Seahawks beating the 49ers last season and this season by a combined score of 71-16.
Yet, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday he feels as if the path to Sunday’s NFC Championship Game prepared his team for the challenge.
“Our team has been in a lot of good primers, been through a lot of situations, been through tough environments, whether it be weather or opposing stadiums,” Harbaugh said.
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Indeed. The 49ers are 8-2 on the road this season, including a 23-20 victory over the Packers in an NFC wild-card game and a 23-10 win in Charlotte on Sunday.
They beat the Packers despite frigid weather and brutal conditions. A week later, they dominated the Panthers after flying cross-country and playing before a partisan crowd for the third week in a row — they played in Arizona in the regular-season finale.
The Packers and Panthers enjoy a distinct home-field advantage. The Seahawks are on a different level, though, Harbaugh conceded.
“There’s a lot of loud venues; I wouldn’t want to disrespect any of the loud venues,” Harbaugh said. “But I would have to say that that’s the loudest, yes.”
The Seahawks lost only one game at home the past two seasons. That came against Arizona late this season.
Harbaugh likened his well-traveled team — the 49ers played in London earlier this season — to a country song.
“Been everywhere, man,” Harbaugh said. “Just like something from a Johnny Cash song, ‘We’ve been everywhere, man.’ Everywhere. A lot of situations.”
• Much was made about the Seahawks restricting ticket sales to people who live in states near Washington but not including California.
Harbaugh isn’t one of those up in arms about the exclusionary practice, which the Denver Broncos also did for their home AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
“Well, it’s within the rules,” Harbaugh said. “It’s within the spirit of the rules of the National Football League. I actually respect it, what you’re trying to do for your team, put them in the best possible position to win that you can.
“And I respect that their organization does that for their team. They do that in a lot of ways, with their team, with their fans, with their organization. So, what do I think of it? I respect it.”
The NFL said its teams are allowed to use such an approach and that this isn’t unique.