49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

February 2, 2014
Super Bowl observations ... with a 49ers twist

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A lot of comments on social media during the Super Bowl noted that it was a throwback to the 1980s and 90s when the games were routinely blowouts. Back then, the NFC -- with teams like the Redskins, Giants, Cowboys and Bears -- was decidedly more physical than the AFC. The 49ers were known more for precision than power but were physical in their own way. The bottom line is that by the time the Super Bowl arrived, teams from the NFC were more battle-tested than their AFC counterparts, and it showed.

History repeated itself this year. It can safely be said that the Broncos were not the second-best team in the NFL this year. The 49ers get that honor. Heck, the Broncos might even be behind the Panthers and Saints after their anemic effort against Seattle. The 49ers' fans won't be happy that their arch rivals are Super Bowl champions. One of the bottom lines, however, is that three games against the 49ers made the Seahawks better.

The other take-away is that the 49ers are built very much like the Seahawks. Which is to say, power still trumps finesse in the National Football League, and the 49ers are one of the league's two most powerful teams.

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Colin Kaepernick and Greg Roman, who took their lumps in the media and from the fan base two weeks ago, don't look so bad right now. Seattle's defense -- in a neutral site, mind you - thoroughly throttled the league's No. 1 offense and the league's MVP, Peyton Manning. The Denver quarterback, not known for his mobility, was a sitting duck for the Seahawks' wolfish defense, and he threw ducks all evening. Kaepernick and the 49ers, meanwhile, beat the Seahawks in San Francisco, and Kaepernick -- thanks to his athleticism and his running ability -- was one throw away from doing it in Seattle, too. I imagine that Manning and the Broncos added value to Kaepernick's contract, if it is indeed extended this offseason.

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The 49ers and Seahawks both are young and talented, and they both will have to face all sorts of contract issues and tough decisions over the next few years. In that way, NFC West supremacy -- indeed, NFL supremacy -- will boil down to a battle between Trent Baalke and Seahawks general manager John Schneider. The latter has a clear edge right now. But Baalke has a ton of draft picks and can close the gap fast.

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I still believe the key for Baalke and the 49ers is finding a down-field receiver. Perhaps it will be a No. 1-type receiver like Texas A&M's Mike Evans, whom the 49ers would have to trade up to get. Or maybe they should find a speedy slot man like Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, who would pair nicely with tight end Vernon Davis. Maybe they do both. Either way, the key is to make the Seattle defense scoot off the line of scrimmage.

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On the other hand, the Seahawks proved a team does not need high-profile, high draft picks at receiver to win a Super Bowl. They did so with the help three players that went undrafted -- Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Ricardo Lockette. Lockette, of course, was one of the many receivers who landed on San Francisco's wide receiver scrap heap this season. The 49ers have had trouble drafting at that position, but they have had trouble developing players there as well.

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The 49ers never had to face Seattle's most renown receiver, Percy Harvin. He adds some spice to an otherwise stodgy offense by adding outside speed. The fly sweep promises to be a key part of the Seahawks' offense in the future. He also will be a challenge for whoever is playing the role of nickel cornerback for the 49ers. The position is very much up in their air this offseason.

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The Seahawks likely will host the season-opening game on Thursday, Sept. 4. Chances they will host the 49ers? Better rest those eardrums.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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