The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have developed quite a rivalry. Both teams are good and they know it. Moving forward, you can make a good argument that not only are they the two best teams in the NFC West, but also in the entire league.
In recent history, the 49ers had been the older sibling beating on their younger brother, the Seahawks, by capturing the division title the past two seasons and winning its first three meetings in those years. However, the time sometimes comes when the younger sibling grows up and becomes the stronger of the two. That time began on December 23 when the Seahawks clobbered the 49ers.
Sure, you can say the 49ers almost won the Super Bowl and that they defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta to get there which the Seahawks couldn’t do the week before. You would have a good point.
You would also have a good point if you said that the off-season isn’t over yet and neither team has drafted, nor have they filled their rosters with some potentially solid free agents still available.
However, the fact of the matter is that if you’re a 49ers fan, you would have to be in denial if you wouldn’t be willing to trade current roster situations with the Seahawks. While both teams have young franchise quarterbacks, the rest of the Seahawks roster is younger and more talented overall if you are projecting its potential into the future.
While the 49ers have some young stars that will keep them quite competitive well into the future such as Aldon Smith and Mike Iupati, to only name a few, but some of their core is also aging past their prime. Frank Gore will soon be 30 years old, which is historically the time when there is a noticeable decline for running backs. Vernon Davis is also less than a year from seeing his third decade. The team is also expecting key contributions from players on the wrong side of 30, such as Justin Smith (age 33), Carlos Rogers (31), and recently acquired Anquan Boldin (32).
I am not saying that these aging contributors cannot have a good year next season, it’s just that they are at the point in their careers when players are in decline and not getting better. Although in the case of Boldin, his arrival will make the team better because they did not have his contributions last season. The only thing Boldin contributed to the 49ers was six receptions for over 100 yards and a touchdown for the Baltimore Ravens to help beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl last month. In addition, the older an NFL football player gets, the more they are also prone to injury.
When you look at the Seahawks, you see a roster that is loaded with mostly young players whose best football is yet to come. Bobby Wagner (22), Earl Thomas (23), Kam Chancellor (24), Richard Sherman (24), Russell Okung (25), Marshawn Lynch (26), and Pro Bowl center Max Unger (26) are just some of the young players that have been assembled. Just as the arrival of Boldin will strengthen the 49ers, the Seahawks also added a receiver in the form of 24 year old Percy Harvin whose play at his age will not be declining anytime soon.
When you think of some of the veteran Seahawks, you think of names like Sidney Rice. It seems like he has been in the league forever, yet Rice is only 26 years old.
One of the only drawbacks of having so much young talent is that player contracts will eventually be coming up and not everyone will be able to get paid. However, this is the exact “problem” that teams want to have. The Seahawks organization has done a wonderful job at salary cap management and the team is well prepared to keep its young core completely intact when extensions are handed out in the future. This is not what fans of the 49ers want to hear.
There are plenty of free agent signings to be made and draft picks to be used to get a better feel for what each team is going to fully look like next season. As we all know, it means nothing to be a paper champion, as the games are decided on the field and overtaking the 49ers to win the division will be no easy task.