Scout’s take: Seahawks edge 49ers as NFL’s best team

Apr 17, 2013, 1:11 AM | Updated: 1:17 am
LISTEN:

By Brady Henderson

Those paying close attention to the moves made this offseason by the Seahawks and 49ers might have noticed a pattern.

Each team opened the new league year by trading for a high-profile wide receiver, with Percy Harvin coming to Seattle and Anquan Boldin joining San Francisco.

The Seahawks and 49ers both traded away a backup quarterback they considered good enough to start, moves that necessitated a replacement and reflected how highly each team regards its starter.

Reports of the Seahawks’ addition of Antoine Winfield came a week and a half after the 49ers added Nnamdi Asomugha, another veteran cornerback with Pro Bowls on his resume.

The similarities in those moves might be purely coincidental, but it’s all made good fodder for debate over which NFC West rival has assembled the best roster. If you ask Matt Williamson, a former NFL scout who now works for ESPN’s Scouts Inc., the Seahawks have a slight edge.

946abf39-7d1c-4973-823a-3e551871d16f
“I think it’s going to be the best rivalry in the league and the most physical game of the year,” ESPN’s Matt Williamson said of the Seahawks and 49ers. (AP)

“I think they’re the best team in the league,” Williamson told “Bob and Groz” Tuesday. “Right now, they’re my pick to win it all, followed very, very closely by the Niners. … I think that the Seahawks-Niners is the new Ravens-Steelers. I think it’s going to be the best rivalry in the league and the most physical game of the year because both these front offices have done such a remarkable job.”

Unlike their 49ers counterparts, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider had to overhaul their roster en route assembling a Super Bowl contender. What’s sped up the process, as Williamson noted, has been their ability to find cheap talent through the draft. Russell Wilson, for example, is making well under $1 million per season, whereas some teams are paying their franchise quarterbacks more than $15 million a year.

“They’re getting great quarterback play, but it’s not abusing their salary cap,” Williamson said.

The Seahawks and 49ers finished first and second, respectively, in scoring defense last season. Williamson thinks Seattle surpassed San Francisco on defense but said the draft will provide the 49ers with a chance to regain their edge. San Francisco owns three picks in the first two rounds, while Seattle has one.

“I think that the Niners will get better on draft day than the Seahawks do, but it’s going to be a great power race just watching these two,” he said, “and I think we’re splitting hairs to say who the better team is.”

A few more of Williamson’s thoughts:

The read-option’s future. Williamson doesn’t think the read-option will be a passing fad like the Wildcat, but he questions how effective it will be now that it will no longer catch defenses by surprise.

“Think back just 365 days ago. The only teams that were running the read-option were Cam Newton and the Panthers and [Tim] Tebow and the Broncos, and at this point [last year] he was a Jet and Peyton Manning was in place. So defensive coordinators weren’t preparing for it all offseason,” Williamson said. “This year, I’m sure every defensive coordinator is grinding that tape like crazy on how do we stop the read-option, they’re calling their buddies in college, ‘give us some tips.'”

Williamson doesn’t think the read-option can be a staple of a team’s offense because of the risk it poses to quarterbacks who are exposed to extra hits. The read-option was much more of a wrinkle than a staple for the Seahawks last season, which is an important distinction to make when discussing its sustainability.

‘Not a fan’ of Brady Quinn. Williamson thinks backup quarterback is one of the Seahawks’ biggest needs. In his mind, that’s as much of a testament to the overall strength of the roster as it is an indictment of Brady Quinn, who’s currently Seattle’s presumed No. 2 quarterback after signing with the team last week. One of Quinn’s biggest problems, according to Williamson, is that he’s “way too hesitant to pull the trigger.”

The good news for the Seahawks, according to Williamson, is that their defense and running game would be good enough to win games without great play from their backup quarterback.

Winfield’s skillset. It’s safe to say Williamson likes the addition of cornerback Antoine Winfield, who has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with Seattle. He cited Winfield’s physicality and ability to defend against the run as reasons why he’s ideally suited to play inside as a slot corner.

“He has good short-area quickness but not elite speed anymore, so you don’t want him running down the sidelines with A.J. Green so much as you’d rather him do battle with the Wes Welkers and the slot receivers and blitz …, have him attack the running game,” he said.

Bob, Groz and Tom

Seahawks RB Chris Carson...
Brent Stecker

Heaps: Bench Chris Carson? Seahawks need him running to make playoffs

Seahawks running back Chris Carson is struggling with fumbles, and it's imperative he corrects the issue, says Jake Heaps. "If this team is going to go to the playoffs, they have to have Chris Carson running the football."
3 years ago
The Groz at T-Mobile Park...
Brent Stecker

Watch: The Groz throws out the 1st pitch before Mariners-Astros game

Dave "The Groz" Grosby was honored by the Mariners on Tuesday night by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Check out video, photos and more from his big night here.
3 years ago
Bob, Groz and Tom...
SeattleSports.com Staff

Highlights from The Groz’s last show on Bob, Groz and Tom

Dave "The Groz" Grosby signed off as a full-time Seattle sports radio host Friday on Bob, Groz and Tom with visits from several notable names from his career.
3 years ago
The Groz...
SeattleSports.com Staff

Watch: Members of the Seattle sports media pay tribute to The Groz

Watch a special tribute to 710 ESPN Seattle's The Groz featuring messages from members of the Seattle sports media to commemorate his 29 years as a daily host in the market.
3 years ago
The Groz...
Brent Stecker

The Groz’s final show on Bob, Groz and Tom airs Friday at noon

Dave "The Groz" Grosby will finish up his 29-year career as a daily Seattle sports radio host on Friday from noon to 3 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle's Bob, Groz and Tom.
3 years ago
Mariners OF Kyle Lewis...
Brent Stecker

What sets Mariners OF Kyle Lewis apart from other prospects?

Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis hit his fifth home run in eight games in the big leagues on Wednesday. ROOT Sports analyst Mike Blowers talked to Bob, Groz and Tom about Lewis and what makes him stand out.
3 years ago
Scout’s take: Seahawks edge 49ers as NFL’s best team