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SANTA CLARA – In 2007, the NFL abolished a seldom-called rule that penalized the defense for excessive crowd noise in a home stadium.
This week, the 49ers will prepare to face the Seattle Seahawks, of course, as well as the 68,000 fans at CenturyLink Field.
How the 49ers deal with the crowd noise and the hostile environment might go a long way toward determining whether the 49ers can advance past the NFC Championship game and toward their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance.
“Other teams may approach it differently,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said on Monday.
“(We) got to be able to communicate without hearing very well. So you can simulate that, somewhat, in practice – signals, hand signals, verbal signals, body language, reading lips. Different ways.”
In Week 2, a game in which the 49ers lost 29-3 to the Seahawks, the 49ers were called for one delay-of-game penalty. In the fourth quarter, the 49ers burned two timeouts on offense.
[REWIND: 49ers fall apart in Seattle]
“I suppose we could’ve done better in areas than we did because we didn’t win the game,” said Harbaugh, whose team trailed 5-0 at halftime. “There was that avalanche at the end and it got out of hand late in the game. You learn from your mistakes, and that’s how you get smart.”
On Sunday, the 49ers appeared to fare well in handling the road conditions in a 23-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
The first time the play clock was an issue for the 49ers was in the fourth quarter. The 49ers called a timeout. On the next play, running back Frank Gore blasted through for a 39-yard run on a third-and-1 situation.
The 49ers have won consecutive road playoff games in Green Bay and Carolina. Plus, the 49ers finished the regular season in a playoff-type atmosphere against the Arizona Cardinals, who entered the final game with a chance at a postseason berth.
“Our team has been in a lot of good primers, been through a lot of situations, tough environments, whether it’s weather or opposing stadiums,” Harbaugh said. “This team has been in a lot of situations – been everywhere, man -- like the Johnny Cash song.”