49ers-Seahawks is best matchup football fans could’ve asked for

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll came out Monday and said what everyone already thought.

Pitting the 49ers against his Seahawks is the NFC Championship game most everyone wanted. Sunday’s grudge match between heated rivals has the makings of a postseason classic, with enough talent and emotion between the sides to spark something dramatic.

“This is the matchup that everyone wanted to see,” Carroll said during his weekly radio show on 710 AM in Seattle. “We don’t mind it one bit and they don’t mind it one bit either. It’ll be a great one. There’s no better matchup that you could have in the NFC right now. We’re thrilled about it.”

While the fan bases don’t like each other much and players have jawed back and forth in recent years, there’s a level of respect that pervades over Sunday’s contest.

Carroll took no potshots on Monday. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh gave no backhanded compliments, and was complimentary of Seattle at every turn. Carroll was effusive in his praise of the 49ers’ recent play, without discounting his own team’s run.

“Gosh, they look good,” Carroll said. “…They have a really well-equipped football team coming in to play a really well-equipped football team.”

Harbaugh understands the difficulty of beating a strong team that edged the 49ers out in the division race.

"They’ve been really, really good week after week,” Harbaugh said. “It’s hard to get to this point, talking about a year of preparation and planning and offseason and training camp and games. They did it better than anybody did it this entire season. So there’s a great task, a great challenge ahead of us 49ers.”

Each team has a home victory this season, and the third installment of this NFC West rivalry comes with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

“The fact that we have this familiarity makes it a really cool matchup,” Carroll said. “It really does, I’m sure on both sides. It’ll be exciting to see how it all plays out on Sunday.”

-- Scott Bair,