With the dumping rains subsiding the Seahawks were outside for practice this afternoon for the first time this week. After it, coach Pete Carroll, quarterback Russell Wilson, safety Kam Chancellor and running back Christine Michael were among the players and coaches who stopped to sign autographs and pose for pictures on the edge of the practice fields here in Renton with participants in the Seattle-area Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Carroll then talked about the task ahead: win all the final regular-season games against division rivals San Francisco (Sunday at home), at Arizona and home to St. Louis and win the NFC West.
"These weeks as they come on now in the home stretch are as good as it gets. This is as good as it gets in the NFL," Carroll said, squinting into an object sometimes known in Seattle as the sun. "This is really as good as it gets -- and then we will see it again, and again the week after that.
"I'm excited about how these guys have taken to it. It's important to them. They've practiced hard. ... Anytime we have a chance to play at CenturyLink with the '12s' it's a big deal to us."
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Carroll is spending a lot of energy this week ensuring the Seahawks (9-4) aren't buying into the outside perception that the 49ers -- 7-6 after last week's loss to Oakland, which followed Seattle's 19-3 domination of them in the Bay Area on Thanksgiving -- are a fallen team, one that is about to get trampled at CenturyLink Field. San Francisco is a 10-point underdog, the largest in the rivalry since Carroll and his old Pac-10 coaching rival Jim Harbaugh have been the Seahawks' and 49ers' coaches.
One way for the players to do that is to remain focused on themselves and maintaining the energy and swagger they've shown in three straight dominating performances on defense, holding Arizona, San Francisco and Philadelphia to 20 total points.
Asked about the 49ers' troubles cornerback Richard Sherman said: "We don’t think about them at all.
"We don’t watch them. Unless we’re playing them it really has no bearing on what we do. We have to focus on what’s in our building and what we’re doing. So that’s all that matters."
Carroll has been preaching that on Sunday Seattle is going to get more the San Francisco team that's been to three NFC title games and one Super Bowl in the last three years, and less the 49ers team the Seahawks rolled over a couple weeks ago.
"This is a terrific football team that we are against," Carroll said.
Asked if the 49ers are even more dangerous than usual because they are likely on their last gasp this weekend as far as their playoff chances, Carroll said: "This is an excellent football team. They've got all kinds of players on both sides of the ball. They can make all kinds of things happen. They've had tremendous success over the years; they know how to do this.
"We have tremendous respect for this football team and the way they bring it, and we've tried to prepare with that in mind throughout. I hope we've done our part of it."
--Carroll sounded positive about Max Unger returning to practice today, though the two-time Pro Bowl center is doubtful to play against the 49ers. He's been out for three games with a high-ankle sprain and twisted knee he got in the fourth quarter of the loss at Kansas City last week.
"Really encouraging signs about him getting back here soon," Carroll said.
I sense the Seahawks are going to ensure Unger is a full-go as he can be for next week at Arizona. Lemuel Jeanpierre almost certainly will start at center again Sunday against the 49ers.
Here is the official and entire injury report for Sunday's game: