In what is now the second most dominating performance in a Superbowl, the Seattle Seahawks #1 defense completely overwhelmed Peyton Manning and his #1 offense 43-8. Top defenses have faced top offenses in past playoff games and the defensive teams have always come out on top (with the lone exception being the San Francisco 49ers utter domination of the Denver Broncos #1 defense 55-10 in Superbowl XXIV).
It doesn't feel good to be a Broncos fan knowing that your team has suffered the three worst defeats (and a record-setting 5 total) in Superbowl history, but the silver lining there is that the team got to the Superbowl in the first place. Of course, I'm sure none of us felt that way when the 49ers lost a heartbreaker in SB XLVII just one short year ago, but I'm digressing. What I do want to point out here is that the Seahawks have clearly proven that their defense is, bar-none, the best in the NFL this year. The defensive strength, depth, and scheme that GM John Schneider, HC Pete Carroll, and DC Dan Quinn have built has surpassed what has been the 49ers strength for the last 5 seasons.
This is why it hurt to watch this Superbowl, because the Seahawks took the exact formula that Harbaugh and Baalke brought to the 49ers franchise and did what the 49ers have fallen short of doing in the past 3 seasons. The formula was simple: Dominating defense, run-heavy offense that could make just enough big passing plays, and outstanding special teams. What's even more infuriating is that the Baltimore Ravens beat San Francisco last year using the same M.O.
So what we are staring at now as a franchise is that there is MUCH WORK TO BE DONE this off-season. In order to win their record-tying 6th Superbowl, the 49ers have got to find a way to catch up and surpass what Seattle has built. It's clear that the gap between the two teams is not that big. The one thing that separated the two was home-field advantage in the playoffs. And that advantage was only a one-win swing in the regular season, but it was enough. Mind you, next season is going to be much tougher for Seattle, because there is now a clear bulls-eye painted on their chests and every team will be gunning for them in every game.
Still the Niners have to step up and improve an aging defensive line, and an above average secondary that is prone to giving up the big play at the worst possible moments. The linebacking core is the best in the league and should get improved depth once NaVorro Bowman is back to full speed. The offense is clearly superior in talent to Seattle's, but does not match up well against their defense. The RB group will have great depth next season with Marcus Lattimore joining in, but the receiving core needs to produce better. The biggest leap offensively this team can make is still Colin Kaepernick's development as a passer. We already know he can beat playoff teams with his legs, but he has yet to show that he can beat the best defenses with his arm.
By winning SB XLVIII, the Seahawks have raised the ante in this young but already fierce rivalry. The 49ers have to raise it even higher. I am quite optimistic that Team HarBaalke can get this done, but they can no longer rely on what they have done successfully in the past 3 seasons. It was good, but it is not good enough. They need to find new ways to do it better. #GetitdoneHarBaalke
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