Nov 25, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith (99) sacks Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) during the second half at FedEx Field. The 49ers won 27-6. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers: Can They Compete With the Seattle Seahawks?


After the 2013 season ended, there were a lot of questions surrounding the San Francisco 49ers and their roster. Heading into free agency and the NFL Draft, the 49ers were expected to answer a lot of the questions about the holes in their roster. Now that the draft has finally passed, it’s easier to analyze whether or not the 49ers have accomplished what they set out to do.

In the NFC Championship Game, critics and fans accurately contended that the Niners and the Seattle Seahawks were playing in the real Super Bowl. Obviously, the Seahawks won that game and then beat the Denver Broncos to win the Championship. Although there were obvious holes in the Seahawks’ game, they were the better team. But now, can the Niners contend with them?

NaVorro Bowman’s injury was the first negative that stuck out in everyone’s mind regarding the 49ers’ roster. How will the 49ers replace someone of Bowman’s caliber? The common problem among fans and some analysts is that they believe that the 49ers have to replace him with someone with equal skill.

In two of the last three seasons, Patrick Willis has missed a few games. The 49ers have had two different players play in his place next to Bowman. Larry Grant and Michael Wilhoite have both started at the ILB spot. Obviously neither of them are on the same level as Willis, but they both played well enough in his stead.

Grant is no longer with the team, but Wilhoite is joined by third round draft pick, Chris Borland. These two will battle for the starting spot next to Willis on the defense. These are both capable players that should be able to fill in for Bowman for the first half of the season.

Public opinion has all but declared that Aldon Smith will be suspended or arrested. Now I can’t see the future, so I can’t confirm or deny whether or not he’ll miss time this season. But as of now, he is on the team and is training like he will play.

However, if he does miss time that means the 49ers pass rush is dead in the water, right? They did nothing to address his absence in the draft or free agency, so they must have a huge hole in the roster. Well, the 49ers didn’t make any initial moves in the offseason regarding OLB, because they didn’t have to make any moves.

The 49ers have their “plan B” already on their roster. The 49ers have Corey Lemonier, who was atop Pro Football Focus’ list for rookie edge rushers, coming back with a year of playing under his belt.

They also have Dan Skuta, who played surprisingly well last year while Smith missed a few games while in rehab. The 49ers already know what it’s like to miss Smith for a few games, and they are fully prepared for it.

Now we get down to the supposed black hole in the roster: the secondary. The 49ers let three of their four starters of the last few years leave in free agency, and all they did to combat those losses was bring in Antoine Bethea from the Colts to replace Donte Whitner and draft a couple rookies.

Now they have Tramaine Brock (who?) and Chris Culliver (who?) set start at corner with Eric Reid and Bethea starting at safety. Obviously the 49ers are in trouble in the secondary, right? Well maybe to the casual fan, but not exactly.

Tramaine Brock started a handful of games last year, and was widely regarded as the 49ers’ best corner. In fact, he played well enough to earn a four-year, $16 million contract extension that was initially thought to be intended for Tarell Brown.

Chris Culliver was a extremely solid player in 2012, excluding the Super Bowl which was the worst game of his career. Because of his pre-Super Bowl comments, the world was focused on him. When he proceeded to struggle in the spotlight, he was written off by millions, despite his solid play earlier in the year.

Eric Reid is a great player who should anchor the back of the defense for years to come. Bethea was never a top safety, but he is an very reliable starter who can stay healthy and lead the team.

The 49ers may have some question marks about the roster, but the supposed holes are not as big as the national media and opposing fans would like you to believe. Now until the season starts, everything is speculation, but looking at the 49ers roster and the success they’ve had the last few years, the cries of disaster might just be a little exaggerated. But now, they have definitely filled up plenty of holes. Their only obstacle to defeating the Seahawks? The 12th man.

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  • loverpoint

    Maybe the title of your article should be ” Can Seattle repeat ” ? NO and they won’t for several good reasons . #1 Arizona proved that Seattle could be beat at home, plus Seattle did not have the best conference record , and the 49ers almost seconded that opinion by dominating Seattle in most of the Conference Championship game, The 49ers made several strategic mistakes that allowed Seattle to remain in the game and eventually win.
    #2 Seattle lost a bunch of key players in FA .
    #3 Will Marshawn Lynch play , or will he play with as much desire ? There are rumors that he may retire if Seattle does not give him an extension. This may be a smokescreen to draw attention away from Lynch and keep teams guessing after all he is only entering his 8th season, I think he wants a couple of years added to his contract and then he’ll call it quits.
    #4 Plus all the other stuff they typically say after a team wins a Super Bowl like , its tough to repeat, teams are concentration on playing a Super Bowl winner the day they schedules are handed out.

    • Paul Goode

      On the other hand, the players who left are replaceable (Tate, Giacomini) or on a career downside (Clemens, Bryant).

    • Paul Goode

      BTW, anyone can be beaten at home. The question is how often.