Niners linebacker NaVorro Bowman believes San Francisco is the team to beat in NFC West. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
When the Seahawks added receiver Percy Harvin, the 49ers countered by adding wideout Anquan Boldin.
When Seattle added defenders Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, San Francisco added defenders Glenn Dorsey and Craig Dahl.
Now that the Niners have added cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the ‘Hawks reportedly are taking a long look at Vikings premier cornerback Antoine Winfield.
Still months away from meeting on the field, the two NFC West rivals are going toe-to-toe in the offseason – with the draft still to come – in hopes of gaining an edge going into the 2013 regular season.
San Francisco, which won the division at 11-4-1 in 2012 and advanced to the Super Bowl, is still the team to beat in the NFC West, but Seattle – which finished 11-5 and also made the playoffs – has been said by some analysts to have had the bigger upgrades over the past three months.
Chris Wesseling, who writes for NFL.com’s Around the League, wrote recently that Seattle has the best roster in all of professional football, with the Broncos No. 2 and 49ers No. 3.
Yet Niners Pro Bowl inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman isn’t ready to cede the division to Seattle just yet.
“I think people like the next best thing,” Bowman told NFL.com recently. “I think people like seeing the challenger get close to being the best. That’s what they’re doing. (The Seahawks) had a great game against us at their house (a 42-13 win). Turned heads, knowing that we were a good team, and the cookies fell where they may.
“You have to earn these things. This is their first time being mentioned like that, in this sentence, and we’ll see what they’ll do with that.”
When asked by NFL.com’s Marc Sessler if the Seahawks had reached the 49ers’ level, Bowman said: “I don’t do the judging. All I know is, the 49ers? We work hard every single day. That’s all I know. I know that we’re going to come and play every single day.”
With upgrades by the 49ers and Seahawks and offseason improvements by the Rams and Cardinals, the division could be one of the best in the NFL in 2013.
“They’re a good team,” Bowman said of Seattle. “I think it’s built our division up, I think it’s made it a lot tougher and people understand now, when they play us guys n the NFC West – they have to come play us.”
The addition of Winfield to Seattle’s cornerback tandem of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner would give the team perhaps the best cornerback group in the league. According to CBS Sports, Winfield, 35, allowed zero touchdowns in coverage in 2012 and was the best run-stopping cornerback in the league. He was released by the Vikings because of his age and salary, but might be a great addition to head coach Pete Carroll’s Seahawks – though other teams, including the Redskins, are interested in him.
Former NFL quarterback Damon Huard told Mike Sando of ESPN.com recently that, “It just feels like the Seahawks make a move, then the Niners make a move.”
“It really feels like this competition that was so fun to watch last fall has carried over into the offseason,” Huard said.
One edge the 49ers have, however, is in the draft.
San Francisco has three of the first 93 selections, including the 31st overall. Seattle’s first choice doesn’t come until the 25th spot in the second round, 87th overall.