49ers v. Seahawks: Position by position

Here is how the 49ers stack up with the Seahawks position by position:

QUARTERBACKS: Seahawks. Russell Wilson is a better pocket passer right now than Colin Kaepernick. And Wilson’s backups — Tarvaris Jackson and Terrelle Pyor — have had more success in the NFL than Kaepernick’s backup — Blaine Gabbert.

RUNNING BACKS: Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch still is in his prime. Frank Gore is not. Neither guy’s backups are special.

WIDE RECEIVERS: 49ers. The Seahawks have two injury prone receivers (Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice), two former undrafted free agent receivers (Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse) and a rookie receiver (Paul Richardson).

TIGHT ENDS: 49ers. Luke Willson had a better rookie season than his former college teammate, Vance McDonald. But Vernon Davis is a much better player than Zach Miller.

OFFENSIVE LINE: 49ers. The Seahawks’ starting guards — James Carpenter and J.R. Sweezy — are below-average players.

BASE DEFENSIVE LINE: Seahawks. This is very close. Aldon Smith and Dan Skuta are better run defenders than Cliff Avril. But Brandon Mebane and Tony McDaniel were the two best run-stopping interior defensive linemen in the NFC last season, better than Justin Smith and Glenn Dorsey. The Seahawks lost Red Bryant in free agency, but his replacement — Michael Bennett — was a better run defender than Bryant and Ray McDonald last season.

NICKEL DEFENSIVE LINE: Seahawks. Another close one. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett each had 9 sacks last year. Bruce Irvin had 10 sacks in 2012 when he rushed the passer 344 times. In 2013, he rushed only 121 times. Chris Clemons signed with the Jaguars this offseaon, so Irvin probably will rush the passer more than 344 times next season. For the Niners, Aldon Smith could miss half of next season and Justin Smith’s pass-rush productivity is declining — zero sacks in the playoffs last season, and just one sack against an NFC West opponent (the Rams during Week 4).

LINEBACKERS: 49ers. Malcolm Smith is the Seahawks’ best linebacker. He’s good, but not as good as Patrick Willis. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are decent.

CORNERBACKS: Seahawks. Nothing to explain here.

SAFETIES: Seahawks. Kam Chancellor is a two-time Pro Bowler. Earl Thomas is a three-time Pro Bowler.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Seahawks. Both the 49ers and Seahawks have good special teams, but Percy Harvin is a difference-maker. He might be the best kick returner in the league.

This article has 128 Comments

    1. I have a “feeling” I’m going to win next time at the blackjack table. Does that mean it’s going to happen?

  1. Injury prone Percy Harvin is not best kick returner Grant. There’s several better than him.

    Old man Devin Hester is still better. These dudes also:

    Quintin Demps KC
    Jacoby Jones Bal
    Dwayne Harris Dal
    Brandon Tate Cin
    Cordarrelle Patterson Min

    1. There is NO WAY those guys you mentioned are better then a healthy Percy harvin. Lets not get riddicoulus about this. If your saying that you prefer them for the sole reason that they will be healthy and Percy won’t is a different story. To say that there better is idiotic.. Hester has had the better career but is no where near the returner that Percy is right now. The other guys you mentioned is laughable to compare them to Percy harvin..

      1. You must not have NFL ticket. I watch more than just Niner games bro. Harris was one of the best returners in the game in the last year for Cowgirls. You can ask the Niners about Jacoby Jones. Patterson had 1400 return yards last year, averaged 33 yds a return, with 2 TD’s. Tate and Demps (Giants scooped him up) are more of a reach but the other ones are better at this time. I’m talking about kick returners, not all-around football players.
        Hester deserves respect for all he’s done. When is fragile Percy ever healthy anymore? ….Nice try

        1. Ya crab I do got the NFL ticket and I follow every team because I play fantasy football like probably many here and I’m very good.. With that said from a talent prospective no one comes close to a healthy Percy harvin. You can watch any other returner you want there not in his class. Hurts me to say this because I bleed red and gold like you do, but it’s not really debatable.

          1. There you have it! You are very good at fantasy football. I didn’t realize I was debating someone so out of my league. I’ll bet you’re so good at fantasy football, you’ve never had your 2 minutes expire when it’s your turn to select a player. Let me guess, is your fantasy team name “show us you TD’s?”
            Now get back to your fantasy war room and stare at your Mathew Berry Fathead, while you polish all of those fantasy trophies you won….Your league may as well give you the fantasy trophy for 2014, you’re a lock to three-peat. Here’s another trophy for you pal http://www.speedyawards.com/images/trophies/fantasy/monster_football.jpg

              1. Hammer, that’s not bad at all .. I do play in money leagues .. I just use my sons name brings me better luck.

          2. Well I found finally found an article that interests me.

            Percy Harvin’s a game changer! The schemes Pete Carroll is going to run.

            And Grant I think you said our back-up RB was nothing of note. PC has described him as explosive and a game changer.

  2. Lmao. “Their [gore and lynch’s] backups are nothing special. What makes you think gore will definitely start over Lattimore, if he’s even still on the team if the latter proves to be as special as he was in college?

  3. Your comments on special teams are silly. Nowhere did you take into account the – -get ready — kickers. What’s up with that?

    Seahawks are gong to get killed this season. Hubris has its payback, always remember that Grant-san…

        1. It is a big difference when that one TD can make or break a close game. That’s what he’s there for — a game changer.

  4. I’ll take the 49ers running backs over the Seahawks, but I think Kendall Hunter is underrated and Hyde/Lattimore could be great backs. Other than that I mostly agree with this, unless Aldon somehow evades a suspension this year and then 49ers get the advantage in nickel DL as well. 49ers also have arguably better depth at nearly every position besides quarterback, not enough for them to be rated higher than the Seahawks in some areas because the Seahawks’ starters at S,DL, and CB are great but it’s worth mentioning.

    1. I wouldn’t. Gore was great in his day and I love his style but Lynch is much better than what the 49ers have. That’s not to say their new picks might not pan out but that hasn’t happened yet.

  5. You actually came off as unbiased…that’s a new look for you

    Good analysis, can’t really say I disagree with any of it. And yes those D-lines are very close to call, but I would likely give it to the hawks as well.

  6. Grant after reading your analisis i’m guessing you see a split when they go head to head. Now the 64 million dollar question, who has the easier schedule? I believe that will be the difference in who ends up division champion and who is the wild card. Do you agree or disagree.

      1. Reid has one. Bethea has two — 2007 and 2009. Chancellor was a Pro Bowler in 2011 and 2013. Thomas was a Pro Bowler in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and he was an All-Pro in 2012 and 2013.

      1. Bowman may now be a little better or a bit more of a play maker than Willis these days, but Willis is still a force and one of the best inside linebackers in the league.

        So maybe a related indicator to the question of a Bowmanless defense would be how well they has the Niner’s defense done without Willis over the past couple of season.

      2. Most teams only have one Top LB on their team .We have 2 in Bowman n Willis .Chris Borland will start and he will surprise everyone.Quote me !

      3. Bowman became very active in the pass rush on blitzes as the season went on. This is something Borland did a very good job with at Wisconsin.

        No doubt there will be a drop off, but with their scheme and the overall talent on the defense it probably won’t be too steep.

        1. Yeah, Borland has that spin move. I wonder how he’ll do covering running backs out of the backfield. Bowman was great at that.

          1. That’s the biggest loss. Bowman was a tremendous athlete.

            Will he even regain that form is the biggest question for me.

            1. I think he will. Bowman isn’t elite because he’s ultra athletic – he’s a very good athlete but that’s not what makes him special. He’s elite because of how well he reads the play. That won’t change. And knee injuries aren’t as career threatening as they once were. So long as it doesn’t become a chronic issue he should be fine. He’s still young.

              1. Sorry, didn’t mean this year. I thought we were talking about returning to pre-injury form ever. No, it will be difficult to return and play at top form this season for Bowman. Even when he returns this season I wouldn’t expect him to play as high a % of snaps as he did last season.

              2. ‘He’s elite because of how well he reads the play.’
                I’d be more concerned if he was at OLB and had to rush and cover the flat.
                He’s mostly going North-South and filling his gap.
                The ACL shouldn’t be a problem for him long-term.

        2. How do you change the avi ,Icon ? I’m new to this site .Jack hammer has exact SF logo I’ve had on my twitter for over a year now .

              1. Welcome aboard 49erface!

                This is going to get confusing having you and Jack with the same avatar though…

              2. Although imitation is the sincerest form or flattery I went ahead and changed mine.

        3. Borland won’t start. Wilhoite will get the starting spot and Borland will trade backup duties with Moody. Borland’s contribution will be on special teams. All 3 guys have very similar measurables. All around 6’0 or 6’1 and between 240 and 250. All 3 guys are around 4.7 guys but Borlands top 40 was around 4’78 and the other guys at least have a few times in the 4’6s. All 3 guys have a similar nose for the football and are good players. All 3 guys lack enough speed to really cover sideline to sideline like Bowman did so often.

          The big thing Moody and Wilhoite have over Borland is experience. I highly doubt Borland is able to beat either one of those guys out for playing time.

          1. Moody also has special teams experience where he excels. It will be interesting to see how Skov competes too. He’s probably a Practice Squad guy but he is a thumper of a run stuffer.

          2. Borland plays a lot faster than he times. I would be surprised if he isn’t starting shortly into the season.

          3. All interesting points .But I still got my money on Borland .Wilhoite is no scrub .He filled in for Patrick and we didn’t even skip a beat .

    1. Hyde wins that battle most of the time; though I think he probably should have tried to twist out of the tackle. He probably thought he could break it.

      Borland had the leverage advantage.

      1. allforfunnplay- You think Hyde wins that battle most of the time? Well at about 8:19 at the goal line Borland stands him up again, one on one, at the line of scrimmage. Part of getting leverage is how low you center of gravity is. Hyde does seem to run high as some scouts have stated. I don’t know if he can be considered a power back. He certainly isn’t a Frank Gore.

        1. Hyde was a mediocre short-yardage back in the Big Ten. The numbers bare that out. Big red flag. Obviously doesn’t have the speed or quickness to be a change-of-pace back, and he doesn’t seem to have the ability to be a short-yardage back, either. So what is his role?

  7. Overall our defense is good .The d line has size and some depth.By no means am I under minding Bowmans importance to our Defense .But I think overall well be ok until he gets back.Last year we started 6-4

  8. I just wanna see Crabtree catch a couple TDs..
    right in front of Sherman ! … (can’t stand that guy !)

    but.. otoh .. the proof will be in the pudding ..
    maybe a lot more 3-WR sets ??

    (I dunno .. ya think Roman knows how to call those ?)
    While I’m carving the turkey .. the Niners will be
    carving up some Seachickens !

    This year .. CK=ELETE !

    (take that one to the bank !)

    1. ahhh…the obligatory daily complaint about Roman’s Offense.

      every so often, I’ll make a comment (this is copied from a comment 2 posts ago)…hopefully eventually enough people will understand.

      IT’S HARBAUGH’S OFFENSE. DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE’S A FORMER QB, HE’S A GROUND AND POUND BO SCHEMECHLER DISCIPLE. HE’S A CONTROL FREAK THAT USES THE WEST COAST OFFENSE BECAUSE OF IT’S BALL CONTROL AND LOW TURN OVER CHARACTERISTICS. If Roman left, maybe some of the wonky situational play calling would change but you’re still not going to see the Niners morph into a 3 or 4 WR aerial assault.

      No you will not see “a lot more” 3WR sets. But you may see more in specific situations and specific match ups.

      1. affap .. didn’t mean to sound like I was complaining
        about Roman .. as I’m a firm believer in sticking
        with “whomever you brung to the dance” .. but
        you gotta admit .. with the amount of ammo we now
        have in the WR corps .. wouldn’t it be fun to see
        Kaep carving some teams (SeaChickens) up
        every once in awhile ?

        Dunno about you … but I’d welcome it

        1. there are some specific reasons to complain about Roman. But the general conservative nature of the offense isn’t one of them. that’s Harbaugh.

          I do believe that based on recent comments by Roman and Harbaugh that in specific situations you will see the offense be more aggressive by attacking downfield with more 3WR personnel groups. But I think it will be highly dependent on the match up and down and distance. and the offense will still be a power running team no matter what. it will be the power run game that sets up everything else.

          1. allforfun-

            I think perhaps they started out with that”let’s open it up” mentality last year, especially in that GB game. Then reality started to set in of how bad our receiving corp really was at the time, Boldin and a bunch of nobodys. That’s when we started to see them really get conservative again and return back to their “just give Gore the rock” mentality. Would you say that’s accurate?

            I think you’re exactly right that this season they intend to open it up. There is talent all across the board and this will definitely not be a One-receiver, one-tight end show anymore. I think Roman has to be licking his chops with all the variation in talent he sees now, especially compared to last year.

            1. the big question concerning an “expanded” offense is if Kaepernick can find all of his receiving options on the field at the same time. Otherwise it won’t matter who all the other receivers are.

              1. allforfunplay- That’s kind of a chicken and egg question. Did Kaep focus on one receiver because the other receivers were bad, or did the other receivers appear bad because Kaep focused on one receiver. Or was the game plan geared to a quick hit and not have Kaep run through a lot of reads. We should find out this coming season.

              2. 2 reasons Kaep didn’t find his other receivers. One is he simply didn’t find them. Game film shows he forced passes to his first read when other options were available. The other reason is that the offense has been somewhat simplified for Kaepernick. In many cases the routes on each side of the formation are designed to beat either man or zone coverage. So that once Kaepernick IDs the type of coverage, he can instantly focus on the area of the field designed to beat that type of coverage. The drawback with this type of simplification of the offense is that it takes away half the field (or WCO type horizontal stretch plays) and some of the receivers.

            2. I went back and watched the 49er vs bucs game .I saw 5 WR sets at times .We have done it but not as effective as I think we will this coming season !

            1. he likes ball control and good defense.

              obviously he’d like to score points. but he’ll take close games over the potential for more points and the potential for more turnovers.

              1. When u play not to lose..u usually do..I see more heartbreak on the horizon then..I hope im wrong tho

              2. Deezybee –

                You said when you play not lose you “usually” do. Usually being the operative word there. Being that his W-L record is phenomenal that would be an inaccurate statement.

                Had you said when you play not to lose you usually will not win a championship. Then you have an argument.

    1. I do believe in you
      And I know you believe in me
      And now we realize
      Love’s not all that it’s supposed to be
      And knowing that you would have wanted it this way
      “I Feel Better About This Pick Every Day”
      Yea, Yea, Yea!

  9. Most fans are familiar with El Guapo and his running style similarities to Gore, but few are aware of his ability to throw a successful down block for the quarterback on the read option play. Or his receiver like hands. That could equate to good things for Kaepernick immediately. Against Clemson, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0_LmUytwqY at 8:11) he sucks the defender in close to the line of scrimmage, and subsequently runs by him down the right sideline. It’s no coincidence the 49ers drafted him. I’ll go ahead and project Mr. Hyde to be in on just over 300 snaps with around 120 carries or so…..

          1. Yea, I psyched you back with more of the same. Heh, heh! I think they call it subliminal cynicism…..

              1. Ha! I just know you’re a common sense man, and actually are a student of the game……

            1. I would think that the number of carries Hyde gets might also depend on Gore and also how well Latt has recovered.

            1. Excluding preseason, I’m going to say 15…20 tops.
              However, if some reason they trade Kendall…40-50.

        1. I am a HUGE Frank Gore fan. The man plays football like it’s supposed to be played. He’s smart, tough, and a team first guy. My opinion is that Gore is the soul of this offense. Having said that, he is slowing down and I am somewhat concerned for his long term health. The man has absorbed one hell of a beating. Also, he’s at the age where missed time due to injury and fewer carries per game can be expected. If Hyde is the backup and Lattimore never returns to form I would say 100 carries for Hyde is a reasonable prediction. One could even say 125 is reasonable.

          1. The more film you watch of Mr. Hyde, the more you rub your eyes as he shape changes into Frank Gore…..

            1. He does have moves like Gore. Except I don’t think he gets as low and has the,after contact push, that Gore USED to have. Does anyone really think that Borland stands up and stops Gore, mano to mano, like he did Hyde twice on short yardage against in the Ohio/Wis. game. Hyde just doesn’t seem to run low enough and continue to drive with his legs after contact.

  10. I’m seeing ‘Draft Day’ this evening.
    My wife’s even going with me.
    Hope it’s good

  11. even if….
    even if…
    even if… we happen to beat the Seahawks x2
    this year (during the regular season)…
    my money says our postseason ends early.
    Why? because the man in the khaki tutu
    (that would be Coach Harbaw) will once again
    let his emotions prevent him from making
    good decisions (like clock control, hmm?)….

    1. It is going to be a nail-bitter isn’t it. I do a pacing ritual. I have to order some Seahawk socks, my sister-laws mother is knitting me an Afghan in Seahawk colors and I need a t-shirt. Hand me that glass of wine and I’m good to go!

      1. Harbaugh recognizes the mistake he made. Luckily, it didn’t hurt him. Josh better win the 2nd string job or else he’s getting cut again. If he can’t beat Gabbert out, he doesn’t deserve to be on this roster.

        1. Of course both JJ and Gabbert would be in real trouble if Harbs worked out a trade with the Pack to get Scott back.

  12. HaHa…. The Hawks are way better than the 49ers at almost every position on the team… and it show when a 9ers based website proves it…. classic!

    1. s-o-o-o, johnyboy, does this mean you’re a Sea-Chicken troll ?

      Sorry to be the bearer of some bad news .. but
      we already have our very own troll ..
      and really don’t need another

  13. I pretty much agree with all the head-to-head, position-by-position breakdowns you’ve done today Grant.

    For the Seahawks what is interesting is thinking through the margin of difference in each position group.

    QB: Adv. Seahawks, but not by much. Could easily go 49ers way by end of season.
    RB: Adv. Seahawks, but again not that much in it. The 49ers group of RBs is pretty good and has good depth, despite what you say to the contrary.
    WR & TEs: Adv. 49ers. This one isn’t even close. Crabtree, Boldin, Davis and Johnson are much better than what the Seahawks will be putting up this year.
    OL: Adv. 49ers. Seahawks OL when fully healthy ain’t too shabby, but the 49ers are better, and have better depth.

    Offense overall. The 49ers biggest weaknesses on offense are QB and RB… and most teams would happily take them off the 49ers hands. 49ers O is better than the Seahawks O.

    Base DL: Push. Both teams have excellent base DLs.
    Nickel DL: Adv. Seahawks. 49ers have a very good nickel DL, but Seahawks are the 2nd best in the business behind the Panthers.
    LBs: Adv. 49ers. Even without Bowman to start the year, the 49ers LBs are better than the Seahawks, though I don’t think there is that much in it.
    DBs: Adv. Seahawks, and by a wide margin. Seahawks have the best defensive backfield in the NFL, and it all starts with All Pro Earl Thomas, even if Sherman is the one that grabs (gabs?) the headlines.

    Defense overall. Adv. Seahawks. The 49ers have a good D, but the Seahawks have the best D in the NFL.

    STs: Adv. Seahawks. If healthy, Harvin is a dangerous weapon in the return game.

    The 49ers vs Seahawks games this year should be spectacular.

    1. Good breakdown, Scooter.

      The fact that Russell Wilson has a 100.6 career passer rating despite throwing to those WRs and TEs and playing behind that OL shows how good Wilson is.

  14. I hate these comparisons. Last I checked, Russell Wilson isn’t lining up against Colin Kaepernick. How about Niners O-line versus Seattle’s D-line? Seattle’s O-line versus Niners’s D-line? WR’s versus DB’s? RB’s versus LB’s? Kickoff versus return unit?

  15. Why didn’t Grant mention the location the teams play at? The Seahawk stadium is a huge difference. An opposing team can’t hear their play calls in Seattle

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