The 49ers have lost their last two games at CenturyLink Field, and the defeats haven’t been close.
The combined score has been 71-16, Seattle.
The Seahawks’ home-field advantage now looms large as Seattle gets ready to host San Francisco in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
The combination of Seattle’s loud and fervent fans, its 12th Man mystique and the terrific team built by head coach Pete Carroll has turned the Seahawks’ home into the noisiest and most hostile stadium in the league for opposing teams.
Over the past two seasons the Seahawks are 16-1 at home. Since CenturyLink opened in 2002, the home team is 67-30, the second best in the NFL behind only Green Bay -- which has had consistently better teams over that span.
“It doesn’t guarantee anything,” Carroll told the Seattle Times last week. “ But it certainly is more fun for us to play here than on the road. We have a tremendous connection with our fans and the 12th Man and CenturyLink. And all of that doesn’t mean you are going to win. That just gives you the best advantage you can gain.”
But after taking his team through consecutive road playoff victories over the Packers and Panthers, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh believes his team will go into CenturyLink this time more prepared to deal with the noise and the atmosphere in Seattle.
“Our team has been in a lot of good situations, been through tough environments, whether it be weather or opposing stadiums,” he told Bay Area media Monday.
Indeed, the atmospheres in Green Bay and Charlotte, N.C., were decidedly hostile to the Niners, who came through in both games.
But Harbaugh admits the stadium in Seattle is No. 1 for loud. It’s a different beast.
Yet to Harbaugh, it’s as if his team has been road tested now.
“We’ve been everywhere, man,” he said.
This time, the 49ers expect their play on the field will be the determining factor, not the noise, atmosphere or any kind of intimidation factor from playing in a stadium where it feels as if an earthquake has hit when the Seahawks make a big play.
“A battle. A brutal battle,” said 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, when asked what it will be like Sunday. “It will be sparks, flames, you name it. It’s going to be tough and we know that.”
Davis says the 49ers have the momentum to beat the Seahawks in their own, cozy nest. They have “that steam, that edge, that momentum” that makes them the NFC’s best team right now.