These are fun times in the NFC West now that all four teams are competitive and all four have higher-profile head coaches.
A few days after 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh questioned Seattle's Week 7 coverage tactics in the secondary, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll returned fire during a conversation with 710ESPN Seattle on Monday. First, Carroll's comments:
"Wasn't it just a couple weeks ago when they were talking about not doing things like that? The Giants or Kevin Gilbride or something like that? I thought there was something about that where we don't go out and express our concerns like that.
"Anyway, I think this was a very normal game for us in terms of how we played. I'm surprised he felt like their receivers were so overwhelmed. I thought our guys did a good job. There are always going to be some calls you can look at, but our guys played good, solid, hard football and Vernon Davis didn't get the ball and the receivers didn't do much. Randy [Moss] got one, so I'm sure there's a little frustration there on their part.
"If the officials look at it, they won't have anything to even look at and I don't think they even need to. It's a regular game. Our penalties have really been going in the right direction. ... I don't think a guy should be able to speak out and they can go ahead and cause an investigation. It's too easy. I don't think that is going to happen."
Carroll worked in a couple digs there when he referred to the 49ers' receivers being "overwhelmed" and when he mentioned Davis getting shut out. His history with Harbaugh from their days in the old Pac-10 provide some context even though both coaches have downplayed any tensions.
Carroll suggests the 49ers are being hypocritical by complaining publicly about officiating only a couple weeks after Harbaugh called out Gilbride, the Giants' defensive coordinator, for suggesting 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith "gets away with murder" by holding opponents.
The comments Gilbride made about Smith's alleged holding were unsolicited. The comments Harbaugh made were in response to questions specifically about the Seahawks' coverage tactics in the secondary. Also, Harbaugh did not use a phrase such as "gets away with murder" when questioning Seattle's tactics.
However, when a coach calls out a peer such as Gilbride for trying to influence officials through public comments, he makes himself vulnerable when he voices his own complaints in a public forum. That happened here and Carroll did not pass up the opportunity to call Harbaugh on it.
I'm most interested in seeing whether officials pay closer attention to the Seahawks' cornerbacks from this point forward, and specifically when the 49ers visit Seattle later in the season. I'm sure that's what the coaches care most about, too.