The 2016 NFL Combine has come to a close, and the free agency tampering period is underway. Since news is picking up steam, it is time to wrap our annual review of the San Francisco 49ers upcoming opponents.
We will be providing three breakdowns. This first one will review the previous season for each team. It will also include a list of each team's free agents, and a look at some potential needs heading into free agency and the draft. The second one will come in April, providing a look at where teams are at following free agency, and what the draft means for each team. The third set will come in July, providing a recap of the offseason and a look ahead to training camp for each team.
Today, we wrap it up with our favorite friends, the Seattle Seahawks. I felt like it was fitting that the 49ers most recent rival of significant note closes out this first set of breakdowns. The rivalry was not much of anything this past year, but maybe Chip Kelly can reinvigorate it.
This season was all over the place for the Seahawks. They lost their first two games, at St. Louis and at Green Bay. They alternated a pair of losses and a pair of wins to head into their bye week at 4-4. They dropped a home shootout to the Arizona Cardinals coming out of the bye, but won five straight and six of their last seven to close out the season with a wild card berth. They went into freezing cold Minnesota to beat the Vikings in the wild card round, before losing a wild one to the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round. They had a shot at a pretty stunning comeback after trailing 31-0, but couldn't get over the hump, losing 31-24.
Russell Wilson started the season slow, but by the end, he was reaching career highs in numerous categories. It's always easy for 49ers to get angry about Wilson, but he did some big things for the Seahawks. He benefits from a strong running game, but he's still playing behind a miserable offensive line. Jimmy Graham did not put up particularly great numbers this season, and his receiving corps as a whole was not exactly something to write home about.
The defense took a step back from its previous highs, but given the levels they had reached, they were still a strong unit. The Seahawks defense continued doing a good job rotating guys along the defensive line. The pass rush had its moments, with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril combining for 19 sacks, but they are going to need more help there moving forward.
Unrestricted free agents: OT Russell Okung, DT Brandon Mebane, OLB Bruce Irvin, DT Ahtyba Rubin, WR Jermaine Kearse, OG J.R. Sweezy, QB Tarvaris Jackson, P Jon Ryan, OLB Michael Morgan, CB Jeremy Lane, FB Will Tukuafu, DE Demarcus Dobbs, WR Ricardo Lockette, RB Fred Jackson, C Lemuel Jeanpierre, TE Anthony McCoy, TE Chase Coffman, RB Bryce Brown
Restricted free agents: OG Alvin Bailey, FB Derrick Coleman, ILB Nick Moody, RB Christine Michael
Exclusive rights free agents: CB Marcus Burley, DT Jesse Williams
The big story is not the free agents departing. Marshawn Lynch seemed to have announced his retirement during the Super Bowl, in the most Marshawn way possible. Thomas Rawls looked great in his place for extended stretches last season, and will take over the reigns as the starting running back. That being said, losing Lynch is still a big deal for this offense.
The Seahawks will likely lose left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy. Okung would seem to be a bigger loss than Sweezy, but the Seahawks need to revamp this offensive line anyway. The other notable offensive free agent is wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. He finished the season with 49 receptions for 685 yards and five touchdowns, similar numbers to Tyler Lockett.
The defense is dealing with some notable losses of its own. Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin, outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, and cornerback Jeremy Lane are all notable losses on the defensive side of the ball.
Cap space: $20,358,119
Draft picks: 1(26), 2(25), 3(27), 4(26), 7(4), 7(26) - 3rd round comp, 5th round comp, 6th round comp
This offseason will be about adding depth in the trenches. The offensive line will need more bodies in a big way. OL coach Tom Cable made some things work at times, but it was still a pretty bad line. They need starters. On the defensive side of the line, they need to add more depth to continue developing their rotation.
They will need more help at wide receiver, particularly if Jermaine Kearse departs in free agency. Thomas Rawls can start at running back, but I imagine they will look to add further depth to compete at the running back position. And with Tarvaris Jackson hitting free agency, the Seahawks might be in the market for a backup quarterback.