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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

From Behind Enemy Lines: Living in Seahawks Territory

Oct 22, 2015 at 1:25 AM11

Being a lifelong 49ers fan and having spent a portion of my life living in the Pacific Northwest, I have seen my share of things when it comes to the Seahawks. I remember when they were in the old AFC West along with Denver, Kansas City, San Diego and Oakland. It's really the Houston Texans that made our paths cross. When the Texans came into the league in 2002, the NFL had to re-align and sent Seattle and Arizona into the NFC West, while kicking Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans out.

I would have to say that my time living in Seattle was...interesting to say the least. I'll preface this with the fact that it's not as bad as Niners fans may believe. I think it's just a matter of understanding the environment.

Interestingly enough, even though the Seahawks have been in the same division as the 49ers for a number of years, the "rivalry" didn't heat up until this game in December of 2012. I was actually at that cold, rainy game with my wife and it was over by the 3rd quarter. While conversing with Seahawks fans, it seemed as if they were almost apologizing for beating the pants off of the Niners that night.

I recall one Seahawks fan next to me leaning over to me and saying "You know that we're really just envious of those 5 trophies that you have, we wish we had that." I don't know if it was the liquor in him talking, but I'll never forget that because I never thought of the 49ers as a team that the Seahawks would be gunning for. As we all know, the 49ers got blown out 42-13 in that game and it seems like ever since then, Seahawks fans started hating the 49ers.

The 49ers were the class of the league that year, after going to the NFC Championship Game a year before and battling for home-field advantage, the Seahawks win proved that Seattle was ready to become a serious contender again...and their fans sensed it.

Since 2012, if one were to walk around Seattle, you would progressively see more Seahawks jerseys as their success continued. It's interesting to note that the overwhelming majority of these jerseys are from the current group of players (Wilson, Sherman, Lynch, Thomas III). This is noteworthy because the Seahawks have historically had great players such as Steve Largent, Kenny Easley, Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, and Cortez Kennedy. I rarely, if ever, saw names of past Seahawk greats on anyone's back so it seemed as if the team's new found success had attracted a ton of new fans. Now, 49ers fans can be accused of "living in the past" by wearing our Montana, Rice, Young and Lott jerseys, but that's because most of us have been fans since that time or before that time and we remember those days vividly.

Around the same time in 2012, Seahawks fans created this movement called "Blue Friday". It called for their fans to wear as much Seahawks gear from head to toe as they could on the Friday before a game. To some, it might seem silly to do this before pre-season games that don't count but hey, give them credit, their passion for their team shows.

On the eve of significant games, you'll see pep rallies downtown in their main shopping district (Westlake Center), while the iconic Space Needle will have a flag atop it every Sunday.

Speaking of flags, you'll also see a lot of "12" flags in and around Seattle, like, a LOT. Nearly every store, every major building and anywhere in between has a "12th Man" flag visible. In fact, Boeing recently commissioned a 747 freighter bearing the moniker.

On game days, the gym is virtually empty, grocery stores have few customers and bars are booming. When it comes to football in Seattle, it's all Seahawks all the time and being a fan of another team is considered blasphemous. Being a Seahawk fan isn't just a hobby, it's a way of life and an attitude for the people of Seattle – something they wear on their collective sleeve.

There was the standard hostility that you might come to expect while living in another team's city; people talking trash, people refusing to talk to me because I'm a 49ers fan, etc. Around the time of the Championship Game in January of 2014, things came to a head after Richard Sherman's idiotic rant on national television.

After the Super Bowl that year, you couldn't go anywhere without hearing people state how much they hate the 49ers, seeing a replay of that final play, or seeing shirts with pictures of that final play. Seahawk fans were actually talking more about the 49ers and less about the Super Bowl win that they just had.

Couple that with things like flying a banner over Candlestick Park, buying a brick to honor their fans at Levis Stadium, planting a Seahawks flag on Mission Peak, making a pit stop at Levis before the Super Bowl for some pictures and the seeds of hatred were planted. For 49ers fans, it wasn't something to be bothered by because it seemed so petty – much like a younger brother trying to poke at his big brother. Around the Bay Area, the tepid reaction over the aforementioned antics said as much. However, over time, this much was clear to me: They hate us a whole lot more than we care about them.

It's that same hatred that fueled their team to own the 49ers for the next couple of years.

With that being said, I feel like 49ers fans shouldn't care enough about this manufactured "rivalry" to get too much into it as there isn't really a history of hard-fought games between the 49ers and Seahawks (outside of the Championship Game in 2014). Historically, most 49er fans consider their chief rivals to be Green Bay, the New York Giants, and Dallas because of their Super Bowl pedigree and playoff contests.

The 49ers used to be the Seahawks' measuring stick. The Seahawks took that challenge and parlayed it into 2 Super Bowl appearances and 1 Super Bowl win at the expense of the Niners. Now that the shoe is on the other foot and the Seahawks are the measuring stick, we'll see how well they can hold up with everyone gunning for them.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Hey, NFLGuy, I feel your pain brother.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 1:38 PM
  • DAM4949
    I've been searching to see if anyone can find a Seahawks throwback jersey. Guess they don't exist. To be honest Russell Wilson is classy guy, he is so out of place on that team.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 12:45 PM
  • T DAWG
    I must agree... Very good article. I have been a Diehard 9er fan since they drafted this young skinny kid outa Notre Dame. Turned out to pretty good. Joe somebody... I have watched most every game since 1980. Now I am a transplant to the South Puget Sound area. It seemed that everyone wears the Seahawk colors. Whats funny, is seeing them in my store, wearing this stuff... DURING THE GAME! But since the losing lately, I see far less. I see slump shouldered, sad, customers and co-workers. Their joy is gone. The world has gone back to parity and balance. I am enjoying this moment, knowing that the 9ers are rebuilding, while the Seachickens are clinging to survival. It should be a great game tonight. Enjoy the Moment!
    Oct 22, 2015 at 11:45 AM
  • Tony
    I originally moved to Seattle as a mediocre 49ers fan and had no problem with the Seahawks. I remember in 2010 beginning to admire a few of their players. However, after seeing how CLASSLESS their players and fans are I began to really dislike everything Seahawks. 3 things are the true epitome of the Seahawks: 1. Sherman's ridiculous rant "I'm the best cornerback in the league" .. #WellYouSuckRightNow 2. Seahawks fans throwing garbage on Bowman when he was injured.. are you kidding me? who does that? Well that's how the Seahawks roll. 3.My real life encounter with the classless fans who personally attack you and are more concerned about beating the 9ers than anything else. Last year's superbowl was glorious, they lost in the most pathetic way possible #BeastMode Great article; I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt this way.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:53 AM
    Response: I've experienced much of what you're describing first-hand and it's not pretty. However, it'll be interesting to see how attitudes change when times get tough. Personally, I think it's easy to hop onto the bandwagon when things are going great, but when things are grim it's hard to have that same passion.
  • Sean
    Much like vermonator, I too used to root for the Seahawks, then the fans became such ***** about everything I started hating them. I just can't stand their fans.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:14 AM
  • 9erStorm
    Good read, but I think the 49ers/Seahawks rivalry is very real ... from both sides. A lot of that originated from the Carroll vs Harbaugh deal, Sherman's idiocy, fans throwing food on 49ers players, Seahawks players hating Harbaugh, etc etc etc. It just ignited in 2012 and has been building since then. And like Green Bay, 49ers fans started to hate them when we stopped being able to beat them. I think it is very real from a 49ers fans' perspective and it is rightfully still considered one of the best rivalries in the NFL. These teams, even at 2-4, don't like each other much.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 9:03 AM
    Response: Much of the rivalry was created because of the whole Harbaugh dynamic. Now that he's gone, I'm curious to see what effect it has on both sides in this game. Seattle is still a far superior team with a much better coaching staff, so a Niners win would definitely be an upset in my mind.
  • Chris C
    As a person living in Olympia, WA, I agree with you to a point. Seahawk "fans" are incredibly obnoxious to me, a 49er fan, and I think they are fair weather fans. You only saw this level of excitement when they win. Plus, they are still whining about losing to the Steelers in the previous Super Bowl. They cry and complain about how unfair it is, but then they forget Russel Wilson is the only QB in history to throw a game winning interception.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 8:19 AM
  • 49ers4eva
    This was a good read, thanks for taking the time.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 7:28 AM
  • vermonator
    Never had a problem with the Seahawks, I even would root for them on occasion, but one day an old high school friend made a rude statement on my Facebook page, saying something like... "Nobody beats us in our house... blah, blah, blah". I was like, ok we'll see about that. Key in the Dick Sherman comments, and it was on. Now I hate the Seahawks more than any other team, including the Cowboys... with a passion!
    Oct 22, 2015 at 7:06 AM
    Response: I used to root for them too back when they were in the AFC West. They kind of went from harmless to what they are now very quickly.
  • Nflguy
    Cry me a river. Try being a Niners fan in Dallas.
    Oct 22, 2015 at 6:51 AM
  • Toosmooth49er
    Nice article. The shoe will soon be back on the other foot. Niners will soon be back on top!
    Oct 22, 2015 at 6:48 AM

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