Clayton: Seahawks closing gap with 49ers with Adams, speed and health
The Seahawks had their second off day of the training camp Wednesday, taking a breath from practice as they prepare for a team scrimmage on Saturday.
What was so noticeable in the first stretch of padded practices is that the defense looks faster and better. On Monday, safety Jamal Adams put on a show. Though he’s had only two interceptions in his three-year NFL career, he picked off Russell Wilson at the goal line and went about 100 yards for a touchdown.
Adams brings so much energy to the defense. He communicates well. He is all over the field. He seems to really fit this defense and should help the turn around from the defense’s disappointment last season.
The addition of Adams closes the gap between the talent of the Seahawks and the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. What could be the difference maker is the injury situation. The Seahawks are in decent shape injury-wise. The 49ers are not. Injuries have been so bad the 49ers are struggling to get through training camp.
Center Weston Richburg is expected to start the season on the PUP list. He’s coming off ACL surgery. Defensive ends Ronald Blair and Jullian Taylor are also coming off ACL surgeries and haven’t been on the practice field. Slot cornerback K’Waun Williams is sidelined with a calf injury.
Cornerback is a big issue for the 49ers. Richard Sherman is set at the position but everything else is uncertain. The 49ers didn’t add much at cornerback this offseason and that could be a problem. Another setback for the 49ers was the pectoral injury of defensive back D.J. Reed. The 49ers waived him injured earlier this month and the Seahawks immediately claimed him off waivers. In the future, Reed could be a cornerback option along as a candidate as a kick returner for Seattle.
The biggest problem the 49ers have with injuries are at wide receiver. They have three injured receivers – four if you include the opt out of Travis Benjamin. Deebo Samuel has a Jones fracture and might not be ready for the season opener. Richie James has a broken wrist and is out. Jalen Hurd blew out an ACL and is done for the season.
The 49ers had to bring in Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson and are signing former Seahawk Jaron Brown. That’s three new receivers the 49ers have added since the start of training camp. It’s been a scramble.
Clearly, for the Seahawks to catch the 49ers they have to be better on defense. They’ve added speed and hitting ability. In the first two padded practices, the speed improvement is noticeable. The secondary is faster. Bruce Irvin has added great speed to the linebacking corps.
The offensive line also needs to improve. Rookie Damien Lewis is off to a good start. He’s a third-round pick running with the first team at right guard. While it’s a lot to ask a rookie to start with no offseason program, Lewis is an interesting story. He’s big and has decent athleticism.
As much as D.J. Fluker was a force along the Seahawks’ line last year, he recently brought up a disturbing fact. He admitted to being at 44% body fat last year. Now, he says he’s at 22% body fat. He had a 50% reduction in his shirt size from 4XL to a 2XL. You wonder how much that might have slowed down some things in his blocking last year.
That’s a lot of body fat.