Though it’s been noisy this offseason between NFC West rivals the 49ers and Seahawks, it’s been nothing compared with the game in Seattle last December.
In that Dec. 23 matchup at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks trampled the Niners 42-13 in perhaps the worst game for San Francisco in the Jim Harbaugh era. Though the 49ers would regroup, hang on to the NFC West title and advance to the Super Bowl, they looked totally overwhelmed that night in a nationally televised wipeout.
While the Seattle crowd roared and made it hard for the Niners to function in a stadium known for its hostile environment for visiting teams, the Seahawks exploded to a 21-0 lead and never let up as quarterback Russell Wilson hit 15-of-21 passes for four touchdowns, Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards and Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a score.
As ESPN.com’s Mike Sando noted after that game, the noise at CenturyLink helped knock the 49ers off their game.
“The 49ers wasted timeouts and took delay penalties while trying to operate amid deafening noise,” he wrote. “Some of those issues are understandable, but the 49ers should expect better on that front.”
Said 49ers safety Donte Whitner after that loss: “It was a punch in the face.”
Now, the Seahawks and their fans are lacing up those same boxing gloves and getting ready to throw more punches in the 2013 season.
Seattle will play host to the 49ers on Sept. 15 in their home opener, the 49ers’ second game of the season, and a group in the city calling itself Volume 12 will reportedly organize an effort to break the Guinness World Record for “loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium.”
Seattle already holds the record for loudest NFL stadium, and during a playoff game in 2011 against the New Orleans Saints, it was reported that the stadium noise was so intense when Lynch broke free on a 67-yard touchdown run that a seismic monitoring station just outside the stadium registered seismic activity. In other words: the ground shook.
The Seahawks fans – known as the 12th Man – have registered 112 decibels during a game, louder than a rock concert. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Volume 12 hopes the fans can break the record of 131.76 decibels recorded in 2011 at a soccer match in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Can the 12th Man break the record?” asked a reporter for the Seattle website. “With the Clink’s capacity for more than 60,000 people, it’s a good bet Seahawks fans will at least get close. And with the fanatic crowd expected for the highly anticipated rivalry game? Yeah, we’re thinking the 12th Man can get it done.”
With plenty of adrenaline pumping on both sides of the ball when the 49ers and Seahawks meet at Century Link, it will be interesting to see what happens. The 49ers, no doubt, want to prove what happened last year was a fluke. The Seahawks, with a chip on their shoulder and eager to knock off the two-time defending division champs, could make it tough on the Niners if they jump out to an early lead as they did last season. The only hope for San Francisco may be to score quickly and take the crowd out of the game. Otherwise, it could be a very loud – and long – outing in Seattle.
And a blowout loss in Seattle like the one they experienced in 2012 could be painful for a 49ers team that faces a long, difficult trek through a very competitive NFC West in 2013.