Seahawks, 49ers collide with intent

When asked if he enjoys the rivalry after a draining 19-17 49ers victory last month, Harbaugh said, "Enjoy it? That's not the word I'd use. It feels like you go to the dentist chair and 3 ½ hours of getting root-canal work done. They're tough. These games are only for the tough."

Both Harbaugh and Carroll have tried to downplay the animosity between their teams -- and certainly between themselves. Harbaugh, who often seems to put on an aloof front in a calculated manner, said this week: "Animosity? No. Erroneous."

But even a newcomer to the rivalry such as Boldin could instantly recognize what he became a part of. After all, he was part of a similar slugfest for years between his Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It'll always be that way when you have two good teams in the same division," Boldin said. "You play each other a couple times a year, and if you're good enough, possibly three times a year. It was the same way when I was in Baltimore playing against Pittsburgh.

"You respect each other as foes, but there is really a dislike."

ESPN.com Seahawks reporter Terry Blount and 49ers reporter Bill Williamson contributed to this report.

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