Five years ago, the message between them was, “What’s your deal?” Now, as they face the end of a twice-per-year rivalry, Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh have a different message for each other.

The Seahawks coach and the 49ers coach regard each other with a specific four-letter term of endearment and/or virility.

Earlier this week, Carroll called Harbaugh a stud. Informed of that during a Friday press conference, Harbaugh was amused.

“Did he?” Harbaugh said. “I feel the same way about him.”

So Carroll is a stud?

“Yeah.”

“He’s a great competitor,” Harbaugh added. “He’s a great football coach. Been in a lot of big games. Very much look forward to playing against their team because they’re such a good football team. Always well prepared. At the highest level every time you play against them.”

Barring a highly unlikely rematch in the playoffs, this most likely will be the last time Harbaugh and Carroll get together unless and until they cross paths with Harbaugh as the coach of a new NFL team. If he ends up with the Raiders, it won’t happen for four more years — barring an encounter for then in the Super Bowl.