SANTA CLARA – One of the best football coaching rivalries is no longer a part of the 49ers-Seahawks experience.

But Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters the fact that Jim Harbaugh will not be on the opposite sideline changes nothing for him.

“I’m not looking at it any differently, but he’s a terrific coach and it was a lot of fun playing against him,” Carroll said.

In four seasons as NFC West rivals, Carroll’s Seahawks won five of the nine meetings against Harbaugh's 49ers. The head-to-head series, which began when Carroll was at USC and Harbaugh was at Stanford, ended with Carroll enjoying a three-game winning streak. That run included a victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship game in January 2014 to propel Seattle to its first Super Bowl title.

[MAIOCCO: Tomsula: Whenever 49ers play Seahawks, 'it's a big deal']

Things are now a lot different for the 49ers, who enter Thursday night’s game at Levi’s Stadium with a 2-4 record, tied with the Seahawks for last place in the NFC West. Jim Tomsula is the man in charge of the 49ers while Harbaugh is leading Michigan to a 5-2 record.

“I think there are a lot of similarities but it isn’t the same faces necessarily, and a different guy is calling the plays and stuff,” Carroll said of this year's 49ers.

 

“They still play real hard and they’re tough and they’re difficult to deal with. Colin Kaepernick gives you all kinds of problems. And the running back (Carlos Hyde) is terrific. They’ve always had a great running back.”

There continues to be a definite 49ers flavor on the Seahawks. Seattle has five former 49ers on its 53-man roster: Quarterback-turned-wide recever B.J. Daniels, fullback Will Tukuafu, linebacker Nick Moody, wide receiver Ricardo Lockette and defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs.

“We’re looking for the best, competitive players we can find,” Carroll said. “And obviously we’ve been battling with the Niners for a long time. And we played really tough, physical games, and in similar style, running the ball and playing defense. Maybe there’s some connection in all of that. We like the guys we got that played there.”

The Seahawks have gotten contributions from Lockett, who has three receptions for 66 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown reception against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. He is also a core special-teams contributor. Lockett spent a season on the 49ers’ practice squad in 2012 but never appeared in a game after spending 2011 with the Seahawks.

“He’s now found himself a really good niche in the special teams area, where he’s exceptional covering kicks and all that,” Carroll said. “So we love having him and I’m glad we got him back. Maybe it was his time there (with the 49ers) and wherever else it was, Chicago, that got him to pop out of it. But we’re just happy to have him on our team.”

Carroll also touted the play of fullback Will Tukuafu, who has also seen limited time this season as a defensive lineman.

“There’s nobody that’s been more of a factor than Will Tukuafu for us,” Carroll said. “He’s a remarkable kid. He’s been playing really good football, and he just keeps getting better. I can see why they liked him back in the day. He’s one of the only two-way performers in the NFL. He’s doing very well.”