One Seattle way to look at the the arrival of the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl — other than plunging a finger down the nearest available throat — is that it sets up the 49ers-Seahawks twice-a-year meetings in the NFC West as happenings, not just games.
Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick did Sunday virtually the identical thing to Atlanta as Seahawks QB Russell Wilson did a week earlier in the Georgia Dome — come back from a big early deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter. They’ve been twinned up a lot.
San Francisco had the better defense, stopping the Falcons on downs on their next-to-last possession, hurting QB Matt Ryan in the process, then leaving only six seconds for the final possession. The 28-24 win in the NFC title game means San Francisco makes the World Series and Super Bowl four months apart (pause for gag reflex).
Looking ahead, Kaepernick in his second year and Wilson in his first suggests several years of look-alike shootouts. The two established themselves as the trendiest of QB trendies, flashing the read option play as well as the complete set of passing skills required for excellence.
Entering the day, ESPN Stats and Info compiled some numbers over the previous nine weeks of the NFL season with its QBR system that takes into account rushing as well as passing. The conclusion: Kaepernick and Wilson were the best.
1. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco, 82.8
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle 81.7.
3. Peyton Manning, Denver, 79.6.
4. Cam Newton, Carolina, 76.2.
5, Tom Brady, New England, 72.0
For ones so young, that level of efficiency is remarkable, and a credit to both coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, for recognizing what they had and making the controversial decisions to bench capable and more experienced starters to go with the kids.
As a sidebar to the success, ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reported that an unnamed representative of Wilson’s, either agent Bus Cook or someone who works for him, called the Seahawks this week “insisting that something be done” to improve Wilson’s slotted third-round rookie contract.
That would be nice except for the NFL rules that prohibit such a thing. Wilson signed a mandatory four-year deal worth $2.996 million in total compensation, which, by the rules of the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, cannot be renegotiated for the first three years of the contract.
ProFootballTalk.com speculated that it may have been Wilson who was the source of the idea, based on an interview he did on a national radio show in which hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic talked up his lucrative future.
Even if they could do it, the Seahawks are already paying backup Matt Flynn $26 million over three years to manage coin flips. So no, Wilson has to wait for his massive payday, and take the risk that injuries may cut him down first (not a short joke).
But a trade of Flynn is a distinct possibility, not only because he could fetch high value and relieve salary cap pressure, but because it would remove the awkwardness of the salary disparity.
And Wilson cannot be cut and re-signed to a new deal because he would have to pass through waivers. Not on Pete Carroll’s life.
So, it isn’t much solace for Seattle fans who saw the Seahawks play both the Niners and Falcons on even terms in three games, but the future of the rivalry between the two Left Coasties will have both prodigies in charge as multiple logs get tossed on the fire by the time September rolls around.
Barring injuries, I’m looking forward to years of rivalry at the top between these two QBs and teams. A changing of the guard may be coming.
Thiel says, “Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick did Sunday virtually the identical thing to Atlanta as Seahawks QB Russell Wilson did a week earlier in the Georgia Dome — come back from a big early deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter. They’ve been twinned up a lot.”
I guess the only difference is that Kaepernick is going to the Super Bowl, and he has less starts under his belt than Wilson. And the 49’s defense did allow a whopping six points less to the Falcons than the Seahawks.
Really, though, you are right with your overarching thrust. San Francisco just has that little extra something that Seattle, arguably, never has brought to the table. Maybe next year, huh?
Michael, as Wilson, said on his tweet, “Congratulations to the @49ers & @Kaepernick7 for making the Super Bowl! Go win it for the NFC.” As Kaepernick repllied, “Appreciate the love.” I love my QB (Wilson) because he is a fierce competitor, but he is also respectful and full of class. I am excited that we are part of a division that will be, in my opinion, the strongest division next year. Obviously, I believe that the 49ers and the Seahawks are going to be stronger than ever. But, without a shadow of a doubt, the St. Louis Rams are going to bring it next year. Depending on the changes that Arians makes to Arizona Cardinals, I wouldn’t be quick to be dismissive of them also. Who knows how many changes he may make that might be influential enough to make the difference?
At the end of the day, both the Seahawks (really need a much stronger pass rush) and the 49ers (what would they be without Justin Smith? — i.e. Patriots and Seahawks games? — need stronger depth) need to work on their defense. But with that said, with Justin Smith, the 49ers is a stronger defense and has been throughout the year. This is something that the Seahawks still need to grow in.
The 49’s got to the Ryan ONCE. You should read what the Wall Street Journal had to say about the poor showing by the 49’s defense against the Falcons. I do, agree, though, the West may be the strongest in the league next year. That is unless either quarterback, Kaepernick or Wilson injures themselves permanently because of their style of play. I am predicting that at least one will have his career, de facto, over within three years.
The Niners watched the Seattle/Atlanta game and learned from our mistakes, clear and simple. The only thing worse than Jim Harbaugh in the Superbowl is both Harbaughs in the Superbowl…retch, gag, vomit
I’m a typical, dour Seattle sports fan. Am I excited about Wilson and the Seahawks? Sure I am. But the Seattle fan in me sees this as just more of the same for when we are good. We still miss the show and don’t perform when it matters most. The Atlanta game is a microcosm of that. Until we right that with a ring (preferably a few), being good doesn’t matter except to torture us with “what ifs”.
If San Fran wins the Super Bowl, who here sees SF/Sea opening the season next year on Thursday night?
Perhaps the Seahawks can’t redo Wilson’s playing contract, but why not come up with a personal services contract between Wilson and Paul Allen? It’s been done before and I don’t think it would be a violation of NFL rules. The team had better do SOMETHING for that young man. When you’ve got veterans at the end of the season saying they wanted to win the Atlanta game for their rookie quarterback, you know you’ve got something special.
Glad to see Kaepernick doing so well, too. I watched him in his first college start for Nevada in that crazy Boise State game in 2007 and my jaw just dropped at his talent. Everytime the Wolf Pack played on ESPN through 2010, I tuned in just to watch him, which is something I’ve never done for an individual football player in over 40 years as a fan. I just saw something great in the guy (so did Jim Harbaugh, apparently, since he traded three draft picks to move up and pick Kaepernick last year).
I hope both these guys have long, successful NFL careers.
You have to seize your opportunities. You can’t take anything for granted–especially being perennially competitive. It’s hard to win games in the NFL, and that goes double to win this ever-stronger division–much less a Super Bowl.
The Seahawks had virtually everything go right for them this season. A young, cheap, and talented core that remained remarkably injury-free. It makes it all the more painful to see it slip away for naught.
And while Wilson is young, he’s not your typical rookie-quarterback young. He spent five years in college and will be 25 next season.
The Seahawks can’t afford to spend the next two or three years kicking any more championship opportunities, because by then they won’t be young or cheap. Now is the time to build a legacy and the sense of urgency should be razor sharp.
Good, informative column Art, thank you!