Not long ago, the NFC West was nicknamed the NFC Worst and there was no rivalry to be found in that division. In 2010, the Seattle Seahawks won the division with a 7-9 record. When that happened there were a lot of NFL fans in favor of restructuring the playoff format. NFC West games seem to lack any luster and there was no interesting rivalry to be found.
Thankfully, in the past two years the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks have cooled off some of that talk with their recent success. These teams are creating an exciting new rivalry.
One of the major reasons why that division has become stronger is the play of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. Both quarterbacks are known for their strong arms and quick feet, yet they run a different style of offense. With their play they are creating a new rivalry between these two teams.
Colin uses the pistol offense, which is hard to defend since the quarterback can either use his arm or legs. Amid the quarterback controversy in San Francisco, Kaepernick stayed cool in the pocket and off the field even if he was facing an all-out blitz from the opposing defense or the media after a game.
His college coach, Chris Ault from Nevada, ran the pistol offense with Colin. Before Super Bowl XLVII, Ault spoke with Mike Garafolo from USA Today, saying:
My part of that offense is just a small part of what Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and those guys do. They have a great offense without the Pistol. But I'm just proud (the offense is) part of that organization, and (offensive coordinator Greg) Roman and Coach Harbaugh, for them to realize the abilities 'Kaep' brings to the table and that the Pistol could add to their already-terrific offense. I'm excited about it and love to see it.
Granted, the Baltimore Ravens were able to shut down Kaepernick for most of the game, but it seems that Colin will have continued success with the style of offense that the 49ers run with more experience.
Russell Wilson runs a more “traditional” type of offense in Seattle. Wilson finished the season with a total of 26 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions (stats from NFL.com). Wilson was able to utilize running back Marshawn Lynch to help take pressure of the wide receivers so they could have a better chance of being open.
Wilson is a student of the game and proved the critics wrong when they attacked him on his small stature. His size did not affect his play on the field.
With the addition of Percy Harvin in the offseason, Seattle looks prepared to have an even better year. Just like Kaepernick, Wilson will have the offseason to study more film and learn how to attack defenses.
Even better, these two teams play each other twice every season—and maybe three times if both teams make it far in the playoffs.
Last season, the first meeting had 49ers quarterback Alex Smith take on Wilson and come out on top, winning 13-6.
In their second game, Colin was the starting quarterback for the 49ers. The Niners were dominated by the Seahawks. In that game, Wilson had four touchdown passes to win in a 42-13 blowout. There was not much of a rivalry in these games, but both teams will learn from those games and be ready for the upcoming season.
One other great point about these two young quarterbacks is that it seems each week they find a different way to win. Look at Russell Wilson’s game before the 49ers blowout, when the Seahawks took on the Buffalo Bills. Wilson threw for only one touchdown but ran for three with just under 100 rushing yards.
The following week was the beatdown of the 49ers, and Wilson led the team to victory with his arm instead of his legs.
Even in the offseason, players are starting up with some smack talk to build up the rivalry.
49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman spoke with NFL.com’s Marc Sessler about the hype around the Seahawks.
I think people like the next best thing. I think people like seeing the challenger get close to being the best. That's what they're doing. (Seattle) had a great game against us at their house (a 42-13 victory over San Francisco in Week 16). (They) turned heads, knowing that we were a good team, and the cookies fell where they may. You have to earn these things. This is their first time being mentioned like that, in this sentence, and we'll see what they'll do with that. They're a good team. I think it's built our division up, I think it's made it a lot tougher and people understand now, when they play us, that us guys in the NFC West they have to come play us.
The Seahawks and 49ers will have high expectations for the upcoming season. The future is bright in Seattle and San Francisco, and Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are two of the main reasons why this should turn out to be one of the NFL’s hottest rivalries.