The Seahawks have never shied away from a chance to embarrass their NFC rivals, the San Francisco 49ers.
Whether it was Richard Sherman‘s infamous rant towards former 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, a Thanksgiving dinner on the 49ers logo, or bitter defeats that sent the franchise plummeting into despair, the Seahawks have been the 49ers primary antagonist for years now.
But for San Francisco’s defensive captain, the biggest sign of disrespect over the course of this rivalry wasn’t the aforementioned transgression. For NaVorro Bowman, his motivation for Sunday’s matchup comes in the form of popcorn.
With the All-Pro linebacker slated to make his first return to CenturyLink Field since injuring his ACL in January 2014, Bowman told Bay Area reporters that he hasn’t forgotten the disrespect that Seattle fans showed him when they threw popcorn on him while he was being carted off the field during that fateful NFC championship game
Via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, Bowman spoke about the incident that has fueled his fire heading into the team’s second meeting of the season with Seattle.
“I remember it, and that’s been with me for a while. No matter who gets hurt, you want to make sure they get back up on their feet and show some sign of respect that I don’t think the Seahawks fans did that at all”
The injury to Bowman occurred on a third-and-goal play in the fourth quarter of the 2013 NFC championship game as Seattle WR Jermaine Kearse rolled over on Bowman’s knee after being hit near the goal line.
Bowman would suffer injuries to both his MCL and ACL, and would be carted from the field. Fox’s camera’s would pick up video of popcorn being thrown at Bowman as he was driven into the tunnels near the stands.
Despite the injury, Bowman was still able to jar the bar loose from Kearse, although a blown call from the officials awarded Seattle the ball after Marshawn Lynch jumped into the pile late and emerged with the ball.
The no-call certainly added insult to injury in what was a disheartening moment for a 49ers team facing a tough challenge on the road. But Bowman wouldn’t let the excruciating pain of a potentially threatening injury be an excuse, telling reporters that he wishes he could have done more to maintain possession of his costly fumble recovery.
“I wanted to get the ball, and the pain kind of took over or I guess me letting the ball go was just me realizing I was really hurt severely. That’s just something is in a football player. The knee is already gone, so holding onto the ball is what I wish I would’ve did to help my team win.”
With an offense in flux-who will also be without the services of RB Carlos Hyde and potentially WR Anquan Boldin– the 49ers will need another stout defensive showing to give them any chance of earning their first win in Seattle since December 2011.
Unfortunately for the Seahawks offense — who currently rank 18th in the NFL heading into Week 11 — the 49ers leading tackler has had some bulletin board material stewing in him, curtesy of the Seattle fans.
“You can’t keep a good man down, is my message to them.”
Bowman will also overcome another mental hurdle on Sunday, as the star linebacker said he plans on visiting the spot of the injury in order to thank God for giving him a second chance at his promising career.
The 49ers season may ultimately be a losing effort, but for Bowman and his vendetta against the Seattle fans, Sunday might as well be a replay of that same NFC championship game.