Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks reacts in the first half while taking on the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyLink Field on January 11, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
It's going to be exciting and fun for everybody around here, and everybody around the country watching the playoffs. It's a great time for us. It's a terrific match‑up, as we said before. Looking forward to it. I love that we're staying in the division. It's been a great season for the NFC West, so we might as well finish it all here. It's exciting for both ends of it and looking forward to this ballgame. What have you got?
Q. How's Percy Harvin doing with his concussion testing?
COACH CARROLL: He'll see the doctors this afternoon. I won't have anything updated for you until after that.
Q. Will he not practice today then?
COACH CARROLL: No.
Q. How about K.J. Wright?
COACH CARROLL: K.J. Wright is practicing. He went through the walk through and he'll be practicing today. We'll see what that means. We'll go day‑to‑day to see how he progresses through the week, but it looks promising. He's got a chance.
Q. Will he be treated like Percy last week that if he is good to go, he will be without any restrictions?
COACH CARROLL: I haven't put it in those kinds of terms yet. I don't know that.
Q. The 49ers linebacker group is obviously very good. But it seems Ahmad Brooks might be underrated a little bit. When you watch Brooks on tape, and you see a lot of him, what really flashes to him for you?
COACH CARROLL: He's not underrated around here. He's had a great season. He's been aggressive and tough and playmaking all year long. It's a very, very good group. It's the highlight group of their defense that just jumps out at you. Inside guys are terrific, and both outside guys cause problems in numerous ways. So that is a focal point for us, for sure.
Q. He’s getting a lot of sacks, are they using him differently?
COACH CARROLL: No, they've pretty much used them perfectly for a long time. They've used them in their base packages and their nickel packages and they move them around a little bit. But he's just been tearing it up as their whole defense has.
Q. How much do you guys feed off Marshawn Lynch and his running style? Have you ever had a running back that runs with that kind of will and determination?
COACH CARROLL: Well, similar. We've had running backs with similar effect. You knew they were on your team and you knew they were special. Marshawn has brought a tremendous attitude for us. We really had hoped that that's what he would do just knowing him through his past. I thought he could be a real focal point for us, and he's done everything.
He's been tremendously consistent; he's run with great energy; he just continues to be a big factor. I love that he's in great shape right now. He's had a fantastic season, and still in great shape. He's taking great care of himself, and he's been everything we could ever have hoped for.
Q. Two teams that are so familiar with each other and stuff like that, how important is it to control emotions and stuff during the game particularly after the whistle and stuff like that?
COACH CARROLL: I think it's really important. It's important across the board. This is a very intense match‑up anyway, regardless of who you're playing or where it comes from because it's championship time. So I think everybody's going to be at the edge. So we need to do a really good job of taking care of business and playing between the whistles. But it's an issue that we deal with every week, so this isn't something new to deal with this week.
Q. After the New Orleans game Russell Wilson was kind of hard on himself, said he didn't feel like he played well. How have you seen him the last couple weeks?
COACH CARROLL: I've said numerous times that we've played some terrific teams. They've done a nice job on us, and we haven't been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities that we have. But all in all, when we take care of the football and we run the ball really well and manage the game like we have been, that gives us a great chance to win. So I'm happy with what's going on. We always want to do more. We're always looking for more opportunities, more yardage. We're not going to accept any incompletions unless he's throwing the ball away that we could have otherwise executed. But I know there is a lot of talk about that. I'm not that worried about it.
Q. Is Jon Ryan underrated around the league?
COACH CARROLL: I never know because I don't know how he's rated around the league. He's a terrific punter. He's done a fantastic job. We've set records here this year for the fewest amount of return yards and stuff because of his positioning of the ball terrifically. We're going to continue to look for that.
Jon's got a big leg too and we can bomb it when we need to. We have to play to him. It's been great to do that. It totally compliments the way we play. We love to put our opponents backed up deep into their end of the field and Jon's great at doing that. So when you can do that and minimize your return yardage, you're doing pretty darn good. He's had a great season for us, so I don't know how he is around the league, but he's pretty big time here.
Q. When you think about the way your philosophies have changed since you were in the NFL in the '90s, what is the biggest message that you got for your team this week? What is the most important thing to know?
COACH CARROLL: It doesn't have anything to do with what's changed because it hasn't changed very much. It's just clearer right now to me. We don't change anything. That's the whole point of the way we prepare our conversation, our communication, our line of thinking, the focus. We're trying to play the best we can possibly play every time we go out and take every game that it might be the one that could decide the outcome of this season, so here we are again.
We've had the most practice getting to this point with the way we discipline ourselves and talk and look and prepare and perform hopefully. So the philosophy is really clear now that that's what is at hand. That's what our conversation is all about. Really important that we execute the philosophy right now so we can play well, and that's what we're going to try to do this weekend again.
Q. Was there a point in OTAs or any moment you saw something from Michael Bowie that made you think he could contribute the way he has this season?
COACH CARROLL: Immediately you can see he's athletic. He's light on his feet for 335 pounds. He's quick and a knee bender and all of that. We had no idea he would come this far this fast, and we're thrilled about it. It's really great insights by John [Schneider] picking him out and bringing him to our attention and all. They've done a great job of coaching him.
He's a smart kid too. He's been able to pick up things. He's played three spots for us, which is amazing for a young guy. We could tell that, but we didn't know the whole package was going to be there until long after.
Q. Could you talk about your aggressiveness with the cornerbacks and your philosophy on that, and why that could be an advantage in the playoffs because normally they're going to let guys play?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I keep hearing that. I keep hearing that's what's going to happen. That has no factor on us at all. First off, we have a style. We've been playing the same style for as long as I can ‑‑ it goes back to North Carolina State. So it's a long time ago we started teaching guys in this manner, and it hasn't changed or adapted to the refereeing or the time of the year and it's not going to do that now.
The stats don't always show ‑‑ the officials numbers are different. They don't always show that. When you look back historically, our guys have looked back. So we wouldn't play like that anyway. Right now we're so far into it, we play the way we play. Our guys are on the line of scrimmage. That's where we play. So we're closer to guys than most when we start. That doesn't mean anything else is allowed or expected or anything. We go play football. We don't want any penalties, we want none. We're trying to play penalty free and we don't want to give our opponents any. How that factors into this time of the year we'll wait to see. I don't know.
Q. Your team has enjoyed getting DBs in later rounds. How do you explain how you've had so much success with guys that maybe flew under the radar?
COACH CARROLL: I think Kris Richard and Rocky Seto have done a great job of coaching these guys. They're deep in the philosophy and approach and mentality of playing this position the way we ask them to. They're out there in classic at the line of scrimmage and they're out there by themselves and everybody knows it and that's how we play. The consistency we've coached with over the years, we've had a lot of success with corners. They've done really well. Part of it is the mentality and the approach those guys are teaching right now. I don't think it's anything that's come to light. It's been consistent for a long time.
Richard [Sherman] has been an incredible football player. He's been unbelievably consistent and at a most difficult position in the few years he's been playing. He has great style to the way he plays. Brandon [Browner] did as well, and now Byron Maxwell has come on and done a great job. We don't mind if Walter [Thurmond] plays or Jeremy Lane. They all can play, and they'll all play basically the same. So we're fortunate that we have good success, and hopefully we can keep it going. We just need it to happen again this weekend.
Q. When you look back at the film, Coach, you've split with the 49ers the last four times. What's jumped out as the deciding factor?
COACH CARROLL: We scored more points at home. We didn't score enough on the road, otherwise the games are just slugfests and fantastic football games. They've come basically down to the last possession and that kind of stuff. It's just the way it's been. Maybe it's that way again, I don't know. We're ready for it.
Q. How did the 49ers offense change once Colin Kaepernick became the quarterback last year?
COACH CARROLL: They certainly opened up the running game some. When they first got in there they engaged with the stuff that he had done in college, the pistol stuff became more of a factor. They had it, but they just used him more as a factor in the overall running game. You notice that they've changed a little bit. Early in the season they went back to their normal kind of styles of the run game emphasis. They've really benefited and won all these games in a row. They've had a great finish to the season. But you could see them change their emphasis a little bit.
He has become a tremendous factor. He throws the ball accurately. He's decisive with the ball. They vary the styles of the throws from the deep ball down the field to maybe having success there to the quick rhythm stuff. Truly the factor that separates them is like Russell. They have the ability to get out and run and make yards running. He's very adept at taking off. That is the most difficult factor in football to deal with is a running quarterback that knows when to and when not to. They've had the benefit of it with a lot of wins and you can see we have too.
There is something that is really special about that and Colin is great at it. They've just played to his strengths as he's grown with them and they've adjusted a little bit minimizing the numbers of quarterback runs.
Q. Russell Wilson hasn't run as much recently. Is that something defenses are doing?
COACH CARROLL: Defenses have changed a little bit. They have. They have not wanted to deal with the quarterback as much. They've seen that, we've seen that, and it's been pretty clear, which is no surprise. The league always adapts. The coaches are too smart, players are too good. There was a little bit of a run of it for a very short time given the off‑season and everybody turned it around a little bit. So that definitely happened.
Q. In your decade away from the NFL, did you always have a desire to get back?
COACH CARROLL: I never thought it was a decade, but I'll take it.
Q. It's roughly around there. Did you always think you'd return to the NFL at some point?
COACH CARROLL: No, I didn't think that. I thought it wasn't going to happen. I was really comfortable with that thought. I had some guys called at times, but it was never presented with the right make‑up to even make it a possibility until the last time when these guys came calling.
It was really clear. I knew exactly what I was looking for if I was ever going to make that move, and I didn't think I would ever hear it. Because I heard from four or five teams and tried them out and they couldn't get there to what I thought would be the necessary make‑up. When Tod Leiweke came around and presented the package and what they were thinking, it was clear this could be an opportunity. And it's turned out better than I could have imagined.
Q. You guys talk about doing everything the same and keeping it the same. But with the added attention this week, the spotlight and the emotions of the game, do you still need to talk to guys about handling everything right?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, we always do, every week. It's always the same alerts and heads up. If there is something unique about it, we'll make a point of it just so they can anticipate the questions that the media will ask, the focus that the media has. So they're prepared as well. This week is no different.
Q. Is there much of a difference in dealing with this than say when you were at USC and you're playing Oklahoma for the national title or that sort of thing?
COACH CARROLL: No, it's not that much different. It's very similar. The mindset and mentality to win games for a long period of time, it's the same feeling. It really takes a process to become comfortable with that. Hopefully we become comfortable with it. I think the 49ers have had the great luxury of being there before, so they know what to expect and what to anticipate. I hope our guys just in the discipline that we hold in handling situations in general allows us to be prepared for this as well.
Q. After the San Francisco game last time Earl Thomas said he was surprised to see receivers come down the field specifically to block him and he hadn’t seen that before.
COACH CARROLL: Who said that?
Q. Earl Thomas. Is that common? Is there much of a counter that you can do? It's clearly respect to Thomas, but was that a factor?
COACH CARROLL: I didn't think it was. Just defensive backs have to know they can be blocked by guys. They have to have their alerts and awareness and vision on it. So Earl might have felt a little more specific attention to that one, but I don't think it was that much different.
Q. You have faced two teams extensively pre and post‑Jim Harbaugh, how has he changed things? How has he changed a team, and when he comes in, what changes?
COACH CARROLL: I think it comes from general approach, his philosophy and what he stands for and who he is and that kind of stuff. That's what you try to do. There is a way things have been run, and then you come in and factor differently into it, and he's done that clearly. He's a really good football coach. He's got a way about him that starts with really good fundamental approach to the game. He runs the football, plays good defense, plays special teams, gets it. That's been the way to play championship football for a long time. Not everybody is in tune with that to the same extent. I think he's really got it nailed and he's demonstrated that.
Q. How do you keep the balance trying to keep the team loose and have fun but also work hard in practice?
COACH CARROLL: If it wasn't normal for us to be like this, it might be a challenge. But we have a way. We have our way of dealing with stuff. Practice is extremely important to us and the preparation process and their involvement is held to such high standard on a regular basis that they don't know any other way. This is just the way we do it.
So when you have standards and the players continue to meet up to those standards in their performance day‑to‑day, meeting‑to‑meeting, walk‑through to walk‑through, then you know you're on course. In our case we know we can trust that. So we can enjoy the heck out of it, have fun doing it, and looking for the high energy part of it and we'll compete like crazy at practice today.
It has nothing to do with who we're playing or what's coming up. It's just the way we do it. It's that kind of focus that takes control of the mentality so we stay normally in tune and in focus. We'll see if we can do it again.
But, to me, it's a challenge every day. Every single day I've got to get them looking right, feeling right and preparing right so we put one day behind us and go to the next. As long as that focus is demonstrated by me, myself and the rest of the coaches, then they'll follow and do whatever we ask them to do. And they've been doing that for some time now.
Q. How impactful can the 12th Man be this weekend?
COACH CARROLL: The message for them is, come on, let's do it again. Our following has been extraordinary. We're blessed to have so much love and care for this team. Our area just gets riled up. There is something about it. Every interview you read from a player who has visited here continues to echo the impact and the factor that it has. It's so constant because they're so constant.
All I'd ever ask is let's go have some fun. This is the last game of the year. We want to go out in a big way here at CenturyLink, and I'm sure the fans are feeling the exact same thing. They'll rise to the occasion, if that's what you want me to say. They will.
Q. When you're standing on the field, how impressed are you with the 12th Man and the atmosphere? It may be hard to measure, but how much of a disruption are they to opposing teams?
COACH CARROLL: Well, ask the opposing teams. They'll tell you. I don't know exactly how that works. But there are always times ‑‑ I take my headset off in the moment just to hear and kind of compare it and just to feel it. It's rousing. It's more than just the noise. It's the energy that they bring that you feel and you sense, and certainly our players feel it and players on the other team feel it to some extent as well. So it's great to be part of it, and we're very lucky to be in the setting.
Q. Have you had to change the way you guys communicate defensively because of the noise at home?
COACH CARROLL: Yes, we have. Yeah, we have. Because of that, we have to communicate like ‑‑ it's an issue, but we're used to it. It's not a problem for us at all. But we do have to be able to communicate other than just two voice.
Q. Usually when you do these types of press conferences, you don't have those type of decorations up on stage. But when you look down at the NFC Championship Trophy, what goes through your mind?
COACH CARROLL: I like it. I sure notice that it's here. It's not the normal ‑‑ we used to sell hot dogs or something back here, so it's, yeah, it's fun to have you all here. Really. We all sense it. We know what's going on. The media is a big part of the change that you have to adapt to as you go through it and the following and the class of the NFL is here with us, and we love that it is. We're very lucky.
Q. You talk about being loose and all of that. We see your guys dancing and stuff like that. Was there a time early in your career that you didn't allow that? You can't be having fun and still working hard?
COACH CARROLL: It's just two different forms. I think over time music has become such a big part of what's going on and the spirit and the energy and what's happening, it wasn't always that way at the stadiums and stuff. I think it's part of that. So I think, yeah, I've probably adjusted over time. Might not have won enough games to dance way back when. I don't know.
Q. Have you seen the Derrick Coleman commercial for Duracell? And what do you think of it?
COACH CARROLL: As a matter of fact, I have. I appreciate you bringing it up. As a matter of fact it was shown in the meeting today. It's a great tribute. It's, of course, Derrick is an extraordinary kid and all that, but it's much more meaningful to other kids that are in the same situation. As a matter of fact, I've seen Derrick talk to kids before that have the same kind of issues that they deal with, and he's an extraordinary model and he's got a great message.
I watched him impact a kid that was here one day at practice. I'm sure it will affect his life. So the fact that that's out there is really, really cool. And the fact it was done so well and in such classy fashion, we're really proud of it.