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January 13, 2014
Home security: Harbaugh respects Seahawks' ticket strategy for NFC title game

SANTA CLARA -- Tickets to Sunday's NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle went on sale this morning through the Seahawks' website -- but not to anybody with a billing address in California, among other states.

The Seahawks announced on their website that tickets would only be available to buyers with a billing address in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii and two Canadian provinces. Notably absent from that list, of course, is the state that would most likely produce the most interested buyers who would show up to the game wearing red and gold.

Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m., and the Seahawks posted an update at 10:43 a.m. saying they had sold out. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was asked for his thoughts on the decision at his press conference today and had this to say:

"Well, it's within the rules," Harbaugh said. "It's within the spirit of the rules of the National Football League. I actually respect it, what you're trying to do for your team, put them in the best possible position to win that you can. And I respect that their organization does that for their team."

It makes sense that the Seahawks would want to maximize their home-field advantage, which already includes having one of the loudest stadium environments in the league. Harbaugh himself acknowledged as much today.

"I wouldn't want to disrespect any of the loud venues, but I would have to say that that's the loudest, yes," Harbaugh said, before adding: "To my ear. I'm older. Everything sounds louder to me."

The 49ers have not fared well in their past two visits to CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are 15-1 in the past two seasons. The 49ers lost 42-13 in Week 15 in 2012, then lost 29-3 in Week 2 of this season in a game that got out of hand late in the second half.

Harbaugh said the 49ers probably could have done a better job handling the crowd noise in Week 2 but deflected a question on the causes of the 49ers' struggles in Seattle. He did say he feels his team has been through "a lot of good primers" for the conditions they're likely to face Sunday -- the 49ers have won three in a row on the road, including a tough-weather game in Green Bay and a chippy contest in front of a hostile crowd at Carolina.

* Harbaugh said he had just seen fullback Will Tukuafu before the press conference and was "encouraged how he's moving around." Tukuafu left the 49ers' win over Carolina with a knee injury after being tackled on a third-down reception on the opening drive. Harbaugh said Tukuafu had undergone an MRI and was going over it with doctors.

In Tukuafu's absence, tight end Vance McDonald played some snaps at fullback. Here was Harbaugh's assessment of McDonald: "I thought he blocked very well yesterday, and had many more opportunities in that role."

* An interesting insight from Harbaugh on the 49ers' goal-line stand against Cam Newton and the Panthers. Harbaugh said the 49ers' typical goal-line defense since he arrived has been a 6-2 (six down linemen, two linebackers), but that on Sunday they shifted linebacker Ahmad Brooks into a middle linebacker position to create a 5-3.

"We had not shown that," Harbaugh said. "And I thought it was a great move by Vic Fangio. We talked about it during the week, (that) this is something that would be very difficult for the opposition if we get into that position."

The 49ers obviously were hoping they wouldn't have to break out the different look, but they did and it paid off as Brooks made the stop on a Newton sneak and the 49ers held.

-- Matt Kawahara



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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