RENTON — It took Michael Bowie little time to recollect how much experience he had at left guard before being thrust into the starting lineup in the NFC divisional playoffs.
“Zero,” he said.
So the Seattle Seahawks were prepared to start a rookie — a seventh-round draft pick, at that, with absolutely no experience at that position — in their biggest game of the season to date last weekend against the New Orleans Saints.
Competition trumps experience for coach Pete Carroll and his staff. That’s why Bowie — a year removed from Northeastern State (Okla.), where he played tackle — started Saturday and why 2011 first-round pick James Carpenter was inactive. Bowie won the competition, and thus the start.
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“We are just about putting the best guys out there from week to week,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said. “It’s about competition, and (Bowie) certainly did what he needed to do to be ready to play last week.”
It was the third spot on the offensive line Bowie has played at this season, including seven starts in place of Breno Giacomini at right tackle and one in place of J.R. Sweezy at right guard in Week 16.
Cable said Bowie wasn’t spectacular against the Saints, but Marshawn Lynch rushed for 140 yards, a single-game franchise postseason record. That leads to the belief that Bowie was certainly serviceable.
“He struggled with a couple of things, but he cleaned them up as the game went along,” Cable said.
So why hasn’t he started there all season?
“He wasn’t good enough,” Cable said.
But Bowie likely will start at left guard against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s a lot of fun, but I’ve got a lot of work to do,” the 6-foot-4, 332-pound Bowie said. “I’m not really thinking about the fun part right now. I’m just thinking about the business part. Just getting everything right so I don’t let anybody down.”
Bowie was dismissed from Oklahoma State before his senior season for violating team rules and transferred to Northeastern State. The Seahawks drafted him with the 242nd pick.
Now Bowie looks to join the already crowded club of late-round finds and undrafted free agents Carroll and general manager John Schneider have turned into success stories.
“You could see he’s athletic, very light on his feet for 335 pounds,” Carroll said. “We had no idea he would come this far this fast, and we are thrilled about it.”
HARVIN MISSES PRACTICE
Wide receiver Percy Harvin missed another practice Thursday as he undergoes team concussion protocols. It seems to certainly hurt his chances of playing Sunday, but Carroll did not dismiss it.
“There’s a deadline from the doctors, whenever they call,” he said. “They’re the ones that are really in charge of this thing at this point, and I don’t know when that is.”
But even if Harvin can’t go, Golden Tate indicated the receivers are better than they’ve been given credit for.
“We hear it all the time, we aren’t worth squat,” Tate said. “But at the end of the day, we make the plays we need to make to help us win, and we are 14-3 right now and playing in the NFC Championship.
“I honestly think any of our receivers in the room could go anywhere else, catch 90 balls, go over 1,000 yards. But that’s not the way this offense works. The good thing is, we are unselfish players. We take a lot of pride in blocking, and when the big plays are called, I feel like more times than not, we are going to come up with a big (reception).”
Carroll said linebacker K.J. Wright (foot) has had no problems in practice, though he was limited Tuesday.
SILENCE THE ‘YAPPING’
San Francisco receiver Anquan Boldin was demonstrative throughout most of last weekend’s divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers, and a Panthers defensive player even head-butted fellow 49ers’ receiver Michael Crabtree.
Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said the Seahawks must focus on their play and not the chatter.
“I hear it, I hear it,” Chancellor said. “I never hear anything directed to me, but I hear it happening out there. I feel like if you are focusing on yapping and trying to get the best of this person with words, it could be a distraction. I think if you just focus on playing football and playing with your teammates, let that guy talk and let him be a distraction to himself and his team, I think we’ll be successful.”
SOME INSIDE INFO?
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had different takes on the significance of any information they might be able to get out of cornerback Perrish Cox, the only 49er to have played with the Seahawks this season.
Harbaugh was asked if he had gotten any insights from Cox, and said: “A few. A few nuances. Yeah, a few insights.”
Asked about the same issue, Fangio responded: “Not really. I haven’t asked him one question.”
The 49ers will conclude Bay Area practices Friday before flying to Seattle in the afternoon.
The team’s practice facility is in Santa Clara, Calif., in the shadow of Levi’s Stadium, which is in the final stages of preparation to become the 49ers’ new home next season.
There is a Northwest connection: The first event scheduled at the stadium is an Aug. 2 Major League Soccer match between Seattle Sounders FC and the San Jose Earthquakes.
In answering a question about the Seattle defense this week, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick volunteered that the Seahawks “have a great front seven.”
That drew a follow-up question, noting that Seattle’s line and linebackers sometimes get overlooked in light of the three Pro Bowl players — Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas — in the Seahawks’ secondary.
“They have a great front seven,” Kaepernick repeated. “They’re fast. They’re physical. They play hard. They know what they want to get done. That’s where a lot of their strength comes from.”
The 49ers’ health report improved Thursday, as linebacker Ahmad Brooks returned to full participation after missing the previous day because of illness.
“Feeling better today,” Harbaugh said. “Had a little bug.”
The only Niners listed as limited were cornerback Carlos Rogers (hamstring) and running back Will Tukuafu (knee).
Listed as participating fully were linebackers NaVorro Bowman (wrist) and Dan Skuta (foot), Crabtree (wrist), defensive end Demarcus Dobbs (knee, shoulder), center Jonathan Goodwin (foot), running back Frank Gore (knee) and defensive tackle Justin Smith (shoulder).