Pencil the San Francisco 49ers in as NFC West’s best in 2023 at your own risk. After the shellacking that the Seattle Seahawks suffered at the hands of the 49ers in the postseason, they have taken significant steps to shore up talent deficiencies on the roster. Come autumn, Kyle Shanahan and Co. had better be ready for the 49ers, Seahawks rivalry to be back in full force.
The Seahawks’ bountiful offseason began with the re-signing of Geno Smith. Following a breakout, Pro-Bowl season in his early 30s he signed a three-year, $105 million deal. It includes $27.3 million guaranteed at signing.
The guarantee by itself is nearly $10 million more than he has earned as an NFL quarterback throughout the entirety of his 10-year NFL career. However, the deal is hugely team friendly for the Seahawks. The $52 million that he is owed for his first year, Smith only receives the entire amount if he is on the roster for a calendar year. Also, his cap hit for the 2023 season is only $10 million, and if he is released following the upcoming season his 2024 dead-cap number is $17.4 million. With the NFL leader in completion percentage inked to a team-friendly deal, the Seahawks have been able to be aggressive in free agency.
For the Seahawks to improve on their 9-8, 2022 record they badly needed better personnel to defend against the run. Per Football Outsiders, the Seahawks had the 25th-worst rush defense DVOA in the league. That was exploited by the 49ers in the playoffs.
Brock Purdy was impressive throwing for 300-plus yards and four touchdowns, but he likely doesn’t put up those eye-popping passing statistics without his offense’s beastly performance on the ground. Christian McCaffrey averaged 7.9 yards per carry and Deebo Samuel averaged 10.7. With the 49ers able to consistently gash the Seahawks on the ground it opened up the rest of the field for the 49ers’ wide receivers. Three of them — Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Jauan Jennings — averaged better than 20 yards per reception.
The Seahawks’ biggest move in free agency was signing Dre’Mont Jones. According to Next Gen Stats, Jones had the 10th highest Run-Stuff Rate in the league. He is also a versatile player who can line up both inside and outside. Jones is also a capable pass rusher. He has recorded 6.5 sacks in the last two seasons.
He is not the only addition that the Seahawks made to their defensive line. They brought back their 2016 second-round pick Jarran Reed. In his last season with the Seahawks — 2020 — they had the seventh-best rush defense DVOA in the NFL.
Reed is not the only former Seahawk that the franchise signed this offseason. The captain is home. They brought back Bobby Wagner after one season with their division-rival Los Angeles Rams.
Wagner may not be as explosive of a player as he was during the Legion of Boom years, but he is still a highly productive player as an inside linebacker. Pro Football Focus graded him as the best player on the Rams in 2022.
The signing of Julian Love marks an improvement in the Seahawks’ defense at all three levels. Of all the safeties in the NFL who have tallied a minimum of 150 tackles over the last three seasons, Love missed the second-fewest. He will be paired in the secondary with Jamal Adams.
Thanks to the Russell Wilson trade, in addition to all of this defensive improvement, the Seahawks still have two picks in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft — including No. 5 overall.
For the gamblers out there, it’s time to put wagers not only on the Seahawks to win the NFC West but also for them to go to the Super Bowl. They have a strong roster that is going to continue to improve with the draft now only one month away.
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