RENTON, Wash. -- Here in the Seattle Seahawks meeting room, where the team is preparing for Sunday's showdown against the 49ers, there is a basketball hoop hanging incongruously near the front of the stage.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin gestured around the room Thursday, pointing to where players have been known to launch jumpers. The long-range shots, he said, come with a risk.

"Sometimes a ball will hit the ceiling and break the lights," Baldwin explained.

In short, this is the kind of fun-house environment the receiver never dreamed of back when he was at Stanford. His coach then -- a guy named Jim Harbaugh -- was so regimented that a rebellious Baldwin nearly walked away as a junior. He had his transfer papers all filled out.

"Basically, it came down to whether my mom would let me do it," he said. "She said, 'No, you have to stick through it.' "

Now, Baldwin will face his old coach with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. And while it's clear he prefers the style of his new boss, the easygoing Pete Carroll, the receiver says that his time under Harbaugh made him better, no matter how difficult it seemed at the time.

"All of you guys know that Harbaugh and I didn't have the best of relationships, obviously," Baldwin said. "But all that stuff is settled now. I was immature. I was a young athlete who thought I knew everything. We clashed at times. And I was dealing with injuries, and that kind of affected how I was performing on the field.

"It's nothing personal against him. Actually, going back on it, I thank him for the adversity he put me through, so to speak, because it made me a better person and a better football player."

Baldwin, who had 50 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns, is part of an overlooked Seahawks receiving corps that will test the 49ers' seventh-ranked pass defense.

He is also what Carroll called "the next guy up" to replace Percy Harvin (concussion) on kickoff returns.

Not bad for a guy who wasn't drafted -- or for a guy who had a hard time winning over his college coach. Things were so bleak for Baldwin at Stanford that he sought the counsel of Richard Sherman, another player who clashed with Harbaugh before finding a happy home in Seattle.

"(Sherman) had gone through a similar thing the year prior, and he decided that he wasn't going to allow any circumstances keep him from achieving his goals and he wanted to do in life, which was obviously succeeding in football," Baldwin said. "I took that to heart as well."

Baldwin said the Seahawks flourish now largely because Carroll sets the ideal tone. The receiver said the approach is just as meticulous as Harbaugh's, but with more individual freedom.

"Harbaugh is more of a military-type style coach. Everything is precise and has to be exactly as he wanted," Baldwin said. "Pete kind of gives us leeway to do things the way we want to. ... He wants you to be yourself and unleash your personality."

  • Seahawks fullback and core special-teamer Derrick Coleman lost his hearing at age 3 but overcame the odds to become the only legally deaf offensive player in NFL history. His story is featured in new Duracell commercial that has more than 4.5 million views on YouTube.

    Before practice Thursday, Coleman said he's proud of the ad's soaring popularity.

    "It's creating an awareness, not just for the hearing-impaired and deaf community but for everybody. Everybody has a problem, but we can still do what we want to do," he said.

  • Harvin was held out of practice for a second consecutive day and has yet to be cleared to play Sunday. Carroll said that the receiver's status is in the hands of the medical staff. "They're the ones who are really in charge of this stuff," he said.

  • Seahawks receiver Golden Tate said he tries hard to tune out all the chatter surrounding the 49ers rivalry. He said social media makes that difficult, but he has a solid strategy: "I've been catching up on my shows — 'The Good Wife' and stuff like that."

    Follow Daniel Brown on Twitter at twitter.com/mercbrownie.