SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had nothing but nice things to say about his Jim Harbaugh, except when asked if he would be surprised to see someone else roaming San Francisco's sidelines in 2015.
"It’s football season. You guys talk about that garbage, not me," Carroll said on his conference call with Bay Area reporters this week.
The 49ers and Harbaugh are in their most precarious position since he became coach in 2011. After two straight losses, one of which came to Carroll's Seahawks on Thanksgiving, San Francisco is on the verge of getting eliminated from playoff contention - and it could lead to an end in Harbaugh's otherwise impressive tenure as head coach.
Carroll indirectly came to Harbaugh's defense, noting repeatedly how much he enjoys competing against his former Pacific-10 rival as their rivalry evolved into the vaunted NFC West.
"I’ve never seen him not be a really good coach. He’s a fantastic football coach. I’ve watched him do all the stuff he did at Stanford, turn that program around, what he’s done at the Niners," Carroll said. "...Not everybody likes everybody, or gets along with everybody, but sometimes they don’t see the magic that guys have. I think that he’s a fantastic football coach. He’s proven that."
It was Carroll's 19-3 win in Levi's Stadium on Thanksgiving that spurred a tweet from CEO Jed York, apologizing for the 49ers' "unacceptable" performance. Since then, along with a defeat to the 11-loss Raiders, the future of San Francisco's coach has been the topic of conversation both locally and nationally.
Carroll doesn't believe Harbaugh has any problem handling that external discussion with his team.
"He’s a stud. He ain’t going to waver. He’s going to battle and keep doing what he does. He’s a great competitor, always has been. And that’s why they’re so dangerous coming in right now."
"All the other stuff you guys have thought was always going on, there ain’t much to it. This is two football guys going at it, two guys that love to compete, battle and there’s nobody I’d rather play. I love playing against him. It’s been that way since the beginning," Carroll said.