The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game by a score of 41 to 23. This team outperformed expectations and made the playoffs after trading away one of the franchise’s most important players in the last decade. They traded Russell Wilson away before the season and opted to start Geno Smith, who broke Wilson’s franchise record of single-season passing yards. They have an outstanding opportunity to build around Geno Smith and their young, talented team.
Geno Smith is not under contract for next season, but both sides have said they would like to reunite. The Seahawks have said they will use the franchise tag if needed, but Smith may be willing to settle on terms to commit long-term to the franchise. He is 32 years old and will turn 33 in October next season and was most likely out of the league if he failed this season. Smith can help this franchise for years to come. He led all quarterbacks in completion percentage at 69.9% and ranked fourth in passing touchdowns with 30. Geno did all this while being sacked 46 times which is third-most, only behind Russell Wilson and Justin Fields. He played every snap this season and was the only quarterback to do so. Seattle would be crazy to move on from Smith, and they should commit to him. It will cost them at least $30 million next season based on the market, but Seattle should franchise tag him at the very least. The front office will likely be very active with all its resources.
The front office did an outstanding job drafting players ready to contribute immediately. They drafted Tariq Woolen in the fifth-round last year, and he led the team in snaps with 1,252 and earned a spot on the Pro Bowl roster. He also had six interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles. Second on the team in snaps was fellow rookie left tackle Charles Cross. Right tackle Abraham Lucas also played over 1,000 snaps. Coby Bryant played 760 snaps on defense, primarily as the nickel back. Seattle relied heavily on their rookies, which led them to have the second-most snaps played by rookies this season. Kenneth Walker III received playing time due to injury, but he earned control of the job with his play. He ran for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns while adding 165 receiving yards. The Seahawks have two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and one in rounds three through six. One of those picks is the fifth overall pick from Denver, which they received in the trade for Wilson. Given the recent success in drafting high-level players, it seems as if the future is bright in Seattle. The experience earned by the rookies this season will help elevate their play next season.
The team has many contributing players still in their first contract, which means they can win now. D.K. Metcalf, Jamal Adams, and Tyler Lockett are demanding a large amount of money, and Geno Smith will get his share next season, so the players drafted this year should be players that can impact the team immediately. The biggest weakness the Seahawks had this season was stopping the run. They allowed the third most rushing touchdowns (18), second most rushing yards (2,086), and allowed teams to convert 42.29% of third downs because teams could get ahead of the chains with their run game. Georgia’s Jalen Carter is the defensive tackle they should target with the fifth pick. He is likely to go before five, but there is plenty of time for things to change. Bryan Bresee is another player to consider out of Clemson. Solidifying the interior of their defense should be the primary concern with their early picks if they decide to keep them. They can always trade down to a team attempting to draft a quarterback and receive a large package in return.
Whatever Seattle decides to do this offseason, they want it to revolve around Geno Smith. Seattle has young talent to support Geno and the offense, but the defense needs to perform better. The defense allowed 23.6 points per game this season, which ranked twenty-fifth. The front office can do many things with their draft capital based on how other teams maneuver throughout the draft. Jalen Carter should be option number one, but if it seems he will be off the board, then trading the pick may not be an awful decision. This front office is doing something right, so they should only take a player they consider worth the fifth overall pick.