JOE FANN

Fann: Seahawks’ draft anticipation only builds after seeing 49ers up close

Dec 16, 2022, 12:47 PM

Seahawks 49ers Nick Bosa Geno Smith...

49ers DE Nick Bosa hits Seahawks QB Geno Smith on Dec. 15, 2022 at Lumen Field. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)

The Seahawks losing to the 49ers on Thursday night, 21-13, wasn’t a big surprise given San Francisco entered as the superior team and exhibited as much for most of the game.

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Instead of dissecting how Seattle played – which was rather impressive, to be honest, especially on defense given how bad things had been for the last month – I couldn’t help but look ahead to the 2023 NFL Draft. That’s because it was mesmerizing to watch 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa single-handedly dominate Thursday’s game.

Bosa’s relentless dominance resulted in six total pressures, two quarterback hits and a sack. Bosa also got to Geno Smith and forced a pick-six on a play that ultimately didn’t count due to a dubious roughing the passer penalty.

Point is, Seattle’s front office is going to have a brutal decision facing them in April. So much of the conversation surrounding the Seahawks since 2014 (the last time they reached the NFC Championship Game, of course) has been regarding the team’s lack of blue-chip players in comparison to other contenders.

That is mostly due to the reality that elite talent is usually found in the top 10 spots of the draft, a place Seattle hadn’t been for more than a decade due to the franchise’s immense success throughout the entire 2010s.

Prior to the 2022 NFL Draft, one in which Seattle took offensive tackle Charles Cross with the No. 9 pick, the Seahawks hadn’t had a top 10 pick since 2010 (No. 6, Russell Okung) and zero in the top five. The 49ers have had five in that same time span, which doesn’t count San Francisco’s blockbuster trade in 2021 to move up to the No. 3 pick for quarterback Trey Lance. It does include when Bosa was the No. 2 pick in 2019, however.

The lack of top-shelf players is a major reason why Seattle sent two first-round picks to the Jets in 2020 for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams.

Now the Seahawks could have a chance to draft in the top five for the first time since they used the No. 4 pick on Aaron Curry in 2009. They own Denver’s 2023 first-round pick, and that selection is currently slated at No. 2 with the Broncos at 3-10 this season.

And that brings us to the dilemma that will ultimately face general manager John Schneider and Co.: Do they opt for a defensive lineman with Bosa-level upside? Georgia’s Jalen Carter and Alabama’s Will Anderson are the likely choices in that regard. Or do they take the opportunity to select a top quarterback prospect with the hopes of finding their future franchise signal-caller. Alabama’s Bryce Young, Kentucky’s Will Levis and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud are the quarterbacks most likely to land in the top five.

There’s immense and obvious upside to both options. Bosa is San Francisco’s most valuable player given the 49ers remain Super Bowl contenders despite being down to their third-string quarterback, and Seattle’s defensive front has a glaring void of star power.

But the Seahawks also understand as well as any team that a quarterback on a rookie contract is the most valuable roster-building asset.

My two cents, though it’s far from a hot take, is that Seattle needs to select the player it grades as the most transcendent among those available between Carter, Anderson and the QBs left on the board.

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What’s undebatable is how crucial the pick will be to the future of the franchise. Schneider can’t afford to miss. Barring unexpected regression in 2023 compared to what has transpired this season, this will likely be Seattle’s lone bite at the apple of a top five pick for the foreseeable future.

There are still four games left this year, and at 7-7, Seattle’s postseason hopes aren’t completely dashed. But pardon me for starting to turn my attention to what will be a fascinating and pivotal offseason for the franchise.

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