Both are in the same division, both are on the way up, both have recent postseason success, both have talented rosters, a host of recent Pro-Bowlers and hotshot young quarterbacks looking to make a name for themselves in the league. Seriously, what isn’t there to love about the oh-so fierce and completely exciting rivalry developing between the San Francisco 49ers and their NFC West rivals, the Seattle Seahawks?
When you think about it, the NFL hasn’t had a really good rivalry since Brett Favre spent those two seasons playing for the Minnesota Vikings in 2009 and ’10. For a brief moment in time, Favre brought the Green Bay Packers-Vikings rivalry back to the forefront of football and did so with flare. The only problem was that when Favre retired, the Vikings once again floated back into obscurity and the rivalry’s significance dimmed again.
Unbeknownst to Green Bay and Minnesota at the time, though, as one rivalry began floating back into the history books, another was in the process of developing. And in 2011, when the 49ers signed Jim Harbaugh, the fierce Pac-10 college opponent of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, a new NFL rivalry emerged.
Fueled by Carroll and Harbaugh’s past, the rivalry between the NFC West opponents only made sense. Both teams had also developed a more physical and overpowering defensive presence under their new head coaches. It was something that made the games between the two teams fierce and competitive. The only thing missing was that same kind of explosiveness on offense.
Primarily career back-ups, (SF) Alex Smith, (SEA) Tavaris Jackson and (SEA) Matt Flynn did nothing to incite energy or excitement in this rivalry. When all of that changed, however, this rivalry took a huge leap toward relevance and added another chapter: The quarterbacks.
Russell Wilson needed just three games of the 2012 preseason to go by before he captured the starting job away from Flynn. It took Colin Kaepernick a Smith injury and five and half games in 2012, before he earned his.
But it doesn’t matter how long it took because both of these guys, just 24 and 25, are here now and are here to stay. Wilson, in his second year and Kaepernick, his third, both represent a class of NFL quarterbacks that signify the changing of the guard in the league. And as it just so happens, they are the only two that are in the same division.
Kaepernick, who finished last season with 1,814 yards passing, 415 rushing and 15 total touchdowns, and Wilson, who had 3,118 yards in the air, 489 on the ground and 30 total touchdowns, are both competing to be the best young QB in the game. Each has incredible ability and each has the skill set to match the talent.
Alone, the side competition between the two QBs is enough to drive this rivalry to success. Add in the history between the two coaches, the reputations of both teams and the contentious brand of football divisional matchups provide, then you have the absolute perfect formula for a great rivalry.
And luckily enough, you don’t have to wait for this rivalry to come into its own. The next chapter in fact, will play out Sunday and I can guarantee you will not want to miss it.