FanPost

"Lightning in a Bottle" - The Decline of the Seahawks (A Seattle Faithful Perspective)

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

From the time the Yorks purchased the Niners until the hirings of Shanahan and Lynch, the Niners have been a roller coaster ride that has led me to see certain facts: 1) NFL Rosters are dynamic, 2) Injuries decimate, and 3) Hope is like catching lightning in a bottle.

Under Harbaugh, the Niners had a stable roster, hope for the future, and a chance to claim Number Six on that Baltimore five-yard line. Alas, none of those things were meant to last nor come to fruition.

After the loss, I wanted someone to blame. I hated that Niner Glory had been tarnished because the Niners couldn’t or wouldn’t give the ball to their Hall of Fame Running Back Frank Gore. Why? Watching Kap’s incompletions were tough to swallow. "Run it in, Kap!" Why couldn’t he just run it in?

The following years were tough to handle, especially while living here in the Pacific Northwest. Not only had the Niners lost to the Seahawks in the 2013 NFC Championship game, avenging that loss to Ravens would never happen. Number Six would be on hold.

Denver proved to be no match for the vaunted "Legion of Boom". The real question asked after Super Bowl 48 was how many Super Bowls could the Seahawks win with this defense. After an awful year in which we watched Jed fire Harbaugh, we Niner fans were once again watching the Seahawks in the Super Bowl – Super Bowl 49. That was our Super Bowl. The Niners should have been there. How sweet would it have been to have the Forty-Niners win Super Bowl 49?

Fate wouldn’t have it. The Niners slipped to 8-8 and haven’t been .500 since. It was the Niners’ fate to fade into oblivion. Oh, that tricky Fate. She didn’t forget us Seattle Faithfuls. Fate would give us a gift on that day…in Super Bowl 49…our Super Bowl. For some reason, Russell Wilson threw a pass on the two-yard line instead of handing it off to Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had rushed the ball to inside the two-yard line. Wilson’s pass was intercepted, and the Seahawks’ fate was sealed. By the way, that moment led to one of my favorite memes of all time seeing the disappointment on Richard Sherman’s face. Thank you, Fate!

Richard Sherman Super Bowl reaction

Since that call, that interception and losing that Super Bowl, the Niners and Seahawks have been on two very similar paths. Seattle is travelling a little slower, but definitely moving in the wrong direction. Their recent loss to the L.A. Rams showed that the Seahawks are on the wrong side of twenty-eight. Only much maligned Blair Walsh had a good day. He was one for one in PATs. It’s a silver lining!

As I watched the circus in Santa Clara, I couldn’t help but notice the circus right here in my own backyard…at the VMac, Home of the Seattle Seahawks. I watched as Malcolm Smith, Breno Gicacommini, Byron Maxwell, James Carpenter. Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond, Bruce Irvin, etc. left the Seahawks to sign lucrative contracts elsewhere.

John Schneider consistently stated that he wanted to be in a position to retain his own talent and needed to save salary cap space in order to do so. Luckily for him, the salary cap rose each year, providing Schneider the money needed to lock up the members of the Legion of Boom, their best pass rusher Michael Bennett, and eventually their Franchise QB, Frodo Wilson of the Hobbiton Wilsons.

Schneider knew if he allowed several of his own free agents to leave, Seattle would receive compensatory picks in the upcoming NFL drafts. It appeared to be a smart decision made by a smart General Manager.

What Schneider couldn’t or didn’t see was that the quality depth of Gus Bradley’s defense were starting to thin out. It also didn’t help that after the defeat of the Broncos in Super Bowl 48, Bradley left and took a number of assistants with him to Jacksonville. It happened again a few years later when Dan Quinn did the same and left for Atlanta. The details of learning a complex scheme seemed to be a bit for current Defensive Coordinator Kris Richard. No offense to Richard, but he was just a DB coach prior to taking the D.C. mantle. It is apparent that the LOB are running the show and its never a good idea to have the inmates running the asylum. As much as I loved Ken Norton Jr. killing the Cowboys for the Niners, he wasn’t a very good D.C. I think Richard is very well liked, but he’s not in the same atmosphere as Quinn nor Bradley.

What was probably the largest departure and still has ramifications on the Seahawks is when Marshawn Lynch left. Marshawn is a special player saved the Seahawks in more ways than anyone realized. He single-handedly won that 2013 NFC Championship Game for them. If he didn’t turn it on in the Fourth Quarter, it would have been the Niners facing the Broncos in SB 48. With his retirement and then eventual trade to the Raiders, they have never been able to replace Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks never will.

As players and coaches left, Schneider altered his "no spending" mantra and decided to sign veteran players such as Cary Williams and Luke Joeckel. Williams was so bad, they benched him half way through the 2015 season and then cut him absorbing his entire salary cap hit. Luke Joeckel has been a bust for both Jacksonville and now Seattle. Schneider’s big name FA signings have failed to replace the talent that has left. Other Free Agent signings were just whomever Baalke cut. Not a very good idea.

Meanwhile, the famed LOB suffered pretty serious injuries. All-Pro everything Earl Thomas broke his leg in 2016 and tweeted he might retire. Kam "I own Vernon Davis" Chancellor has been suffering from ankle, knee, and hip injuries, and our beloved DICK Sherman has ruptured his Achilles tendon. Michael Bennett is a shell of his former self. Cliff Avril is done playing football and is now doing a local radio show. Both Wagner and K.J. Wright have been ailing the last few games. Injuries decimate everything.

In 2010, Trent Baalke became the General Manager for the Niners. He did a very poor job of keeping talent, drafting talent, and the coaching staffs he hired did a horrible job of coaching up talent. The Jim Meat Bags and Chip Kelly’s of the world just didn’t have the necessary abilities to keep the Niners relevant. Free Agents didn’t want to come to the Bay. Coaches didn’t want to be subjected to the MaRAThes of the world and no one wanted to be the scorn of Jed.

The Niner Faithful responded in kind with banners telling Jed to "Mutually Part Ways" or "Fire Baalke". Jed is slow, but he witnessed the embarrassment of empty stadiums, slow merchandising, and ridicule from yours truly on a daily basis. He finally listened and decided to Fire Baalke.

Lynch and Shanahan arrived on the scene and discovered that the talent level on the team is severely lacking despite spending high draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. There was no franchise quarterback on the team. Both decided Free Agency and the Draft would be used to restock the roster.

Pete Carroll and John Schneider found a similar situation in 2009 when they took over a depleted Seahawk team from Thrice-Cursed Jim Mora, Jr. Aiding the new Seahawk General Manager was former Niner G.M. Scot Mcloughan. McCloughan received another chance in Seattle after his firing in San Francisco.

McCloughan’s Influence was apparent for both organizations. The Niners under McCloughan had 6 Pro Bowlers and possibly two potential Hall of Famers (Gore and Willis). Seahawks under McCloughan had 8 Pro Bowlers and possibly two potential Hall of Famers (Thomas and Wilson). Even in his short stead in Washington, his two drafts have resulted in multiple starters including one Pro Bowler.

McCloughan left the Seahawks in 2013. There have been ZERO Seattle Pro Bowlers drafted from 2013 to the present. The last two players were Wagner and Russell Wilson…in 2012.

Focusing on the draft, Schneider has struggled to draft talent to replenish Seattle’s drained talent pool. Since 2013 and after McCloughan’s departure, there are only a few players left from those drafts. Luke Willson from the 2013 draft is the lone hold over after he signed a cheap veteran contract to remain in Seattle. There are two players left from 2014 and 2015 respectively. There are five players left from the 2016 draft. Schneider had ten picks in that draft. I haven’t judged the 2017 draft, but already the Seahawks first pick in the Second round, Malik McDowell has not played at all this year due to injuries suffered after the draft.

Also, Schneider’s awful trades are not having the desired impact. Let’s talk about draft picks first. In 2017, he traded the overall 26th pick to the Atlanta Falcons for their pick at 31 and 3rd (95th) round and 7th (294th) round selections. Atlanta took Takkaris McKinley who has helped Dan Quinn’s Falcon’s pass rush. Does Seattle need help with their pass rush? McKinley might have been a good fit.

In the same round Schneider then traded with Niners. He traded the 31st overall pick for the Niners second round pick (34th), 111th pick from the Chicago via the Niners in the Trubisky trade. The Niners selected one of my favorites, Reuben Foster. Here’s to Reuben terrorizing the Seahawks for the next ten years.

After the draft concluded that evening, the next day Schneider traded that pick to Jacksonville for their second round (35th) and sixth rounder (187th). McDowell was taken with the 35th pick overall. Some are already indicating he may never play another down as a football player due to his injuries. He was recently placed on the Non-Football Injury list

I’m sure the idea was to accumulate as many picks as possible. The problem becomes when those picks don’t pan out or worse. What could be worse? When the picks do pan out, but on another team. For instance, let’s talk about Alex Collins. Collins was a 2016 fifth round draft pick. After signing "Feast Mode" Eddie Lacy to a lucrative contract, the return of Thomas "The Train" Rawls, and the emergence of 2016 Seventh Round pick Chris Carson, Collins was waived on September 2, 2017

On October 10, 2017, Collins earned his first career start again the Pittsburgh Steelers and finished the 26–9 loss with nine carries for 82 rushing yards and a fumble. During a Week 8 matchup against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, -he rushed for a career high of 113-yards on 18 carries and also caught two passes for 30-yards in the Ravens' 40–0 victory. Although Danny Woodhead returned in Week 9, Collins remained the starting running back and maintained his carries

On November 19, 2017, Collins made his fifth consecutive start and rushed for 49-yards on 20 carries, while also scoring his first rushing touchdown of the season on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter of a 23–0 defeat over the Green Bay Packers. He had seven consecutive games without a fumble after analysts criticized him for fumbling twice in three games and worried about his ball security moving forward. On November 27, 2017, he had 16 carries for 60 rushing yards and scored an eight-yard touchdown run in a 23–16 win against the Houston Texans.[33]

The following week, Collins had 75 yards on the ground and 23 in the air to go along with a career-high two touchdowns, one of which being the game clincher, in a 44-20 win over the Detroit Lions. In the next game, on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he ran the ball 18 times for 120 yards and a touchdown, as well as catching two passes for 46 yards, helping the Ravens total 152 yards on the ground. Despite what was arguably the best game of his career so far, the Steelers narrowly escaped with a win in the 38-39 shootout.

Collins has rushed for 844 yards on 174 carries with 5 touchdowns since October 10, 2017. On the year, Russell Wilson has 541 yards rushing. The closest running back on the current Seahawk roster is Chris Carson at 208 yards and he has been injured since October 2, 2017. That’s either some bad luck, bad coaching or bad roster management. Either way, good luck to Alex Collins and his continued success…in Baltimore.

As I studied Schneider’s draft tendencies, I noticed something very dangerous to the current and future success of the Seahawk’s organization: he trades away the highest draft picks on a regular basis. The worst part about this is he has mortgaged the future on the Seahawks. Thank you, John.

Jimmy Graham was traded for Pro Bowl Center Max Unger in 2015. Not only did Seattle give up their best offensive lineman, they gave up their first-round pick that year. Don’t worry, they got New Orleans fourth round pick back in return and drafted OL Mark Glowinski. They just cut Glowinski ten days ago.

This year, the Seahawks traded their second-round pick in this year’s draft to the New York Football Jets for oft-maligned Defensive Tackle Sheldon Richardson. Sheldon will be a free agent at the end of the year and there are already rumors spreading from the Metropolis about Richardson being united with Gang Green. If true, this was a wasted pick.

Wait, this year isn’t done with trading away future draft picks. It is no secret that Tom Cable has not done anything to earn his money. The offensive line remains "offensive". If not for the healing of Nanobubbles, the good lovin’ of his woman Ciara, and his God given talent to run away from bigger stronger men, the Hobbit would be on injured reserve already.

In sheer desperation over the lack of protection for Wilson, Schneider traded for Texans holdout Duane Brown. Originally, Seattle sent Jeremy Lane, a second-round pick in 2019 along with a 2018 fifth-round pick for left tackle Duane Brown. Brown has one year left on his contract, but will want to be paid. With the lack of "Blind Side" protection, someone will give Brown the money he wants. If Brown leaves, this is another wasted high draft pick.

Schneider is known for his draft picks who have hit it big: Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, etc. Without McCloughan, he’s known for his wasted draft picks. Schneider is a very good G.M. with other things, but not when it comes to the draft or identifying talent. It’s either that or Peter Carroll and his coaching staff are not doing their jobs. Either way, as a Niner fan, I’m happy this era of Seahawk football is coming to an end.

The demise of Seattle has been in effect for several years now. The Rams finally moved on from Jeff Fisher and now look what McVay has done. The Cardinals might move away from Arians. That is yet to be determined. The Niners are now being rebuilt "brick by brick" under Shanahan and Lynch. With Jimmy G on board now, the sky is the limit.

Seattle, specifically Schneider, is going to have to make some tough decisions here very quickly. Their depleted, injured, and expensive roster is getting older, draft picks have not produced, veterans brought in from future draft picks trades have not worked, and their track record with free agency has failed miserably.

Bill Walsh is quoted as stating it’s better to trade a player early than too late or something like that. I like this quote better from the Hall of Famer "Failure is part of success, an integral part. Everybody gets knocked down. Knowing it will happen and what you must do when it does is the first step back." From what I have researched, it doesn’t appear Schneider knows how far his team has fallen. He has placed Seattle in an "All In" mode and I am excited to watch them fail to make the playoffs this year.

Fate has allowed me to watch the decline of a hated divisional rival up front and its great. As I am writing this, there is still fall out about how Thomas and Wagner are responding to each other over some heart felt tweets after the Rams blowout victory. It’s no secret that Seattle has benefitted from the Yorks running the show. I still believe that if DeBartolo was in control, the rivalry with Seattle would be as intense as the Cowboy rivalries in the early to mid-Nineties. If things go well for the Niners in this re-build, there may come a time where the "Twelves" will need to decide if Schneider/Carroll are the ones to lead them forward or risk trying to catch lightning in a bottle for a second time. It might be easier to start over. I hear Jim Mora, Jr. is available.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.