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49ers' Harbaugh praises Carroll

The SportsXchange

Despite the public perception that San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll are arch-enemies, Harbaugh went out of his way to praise Carroll in his end-of-season press conference Tuesday.

Speaking at team headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., Harbaugh recounted his interaction with Carroll on Sunday after the Seahawks beat the 49ers 23-17 in the NFC Championship Game.

"I congratulated him and his team moving on and wished them good luck, and he had some very nice things to say as well," Harbaugh said. "I think everybody saw the same thing in terms of the way the game was played. Great credit to the players that played in the game and to the coaches that coached in the game. It was a great football game."

Harbaugh acknowledged that having a powerful team such as Seattle playing in the same division is beneficial to both clubs.

"They're an outstanding, worthy opponent," he said. "That's one thing about a rivalry that is a wonderful thing in football, at any level, it makes both teams aspire to be better, to be great. And they had a phenomenal year. So far they've done it better than anybody else has."

Harbaugh expressed ignorance of one controversial piece of the rivalry: Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman's actions and comments at the end of Sunday's game.

Sherman made the decisive play in the end zone, tipping a pass that turned into an interception, and then he drew a penalty for taunting 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree. In postgame interviews Sunday, Sherman trashed Crabtree, but he apologized for his comments Monday.

"I've heard some talk about it, but I don't know those specific gestures that you're referring to because I didn't see them," Harbaugh said. "I did not see the interviews. No, I did not sit down and watch the interviews from the game. And whatever did take place, let those be judged how they're judged."

Harbaugh refused to discuss whether he and the team will soon discuss a contract extension, but he did update the status of several of his players who were injured Sunday.

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman will undergo surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, and it is possible he might need to have his right medial collateral ligament fixed, too. The MCL will be re-examined in two to three weeks.

Harbaugh said he was uncertain whether Bowman would be ready for the start of the 2014 season.

Running back Frank Gore broke his right ring finger during the game, but Harbaugh didn't learn about the injury until the game ended. Tackle Joe Staley also played through a serious injury, a compound dislocation in his right thumb.

Guard Mike Iupati broke his left leg, but surgery is not planned, Harbaugh said.
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