On Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks put on a show, wiping out the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII and looking unbeatable in the process.
With an average roster age of just over 26, a young, playmaking quarterback, a dynamic defense, a proven head coach and solid organization, the Seahawks looked to most of the nation like an unbeatable dynasty in the making.
Yet the 49ers know better.
The Niners not only beat the Seahawks 19-17 this season, the team from San Francisco went into CenturyLink Field for the NFC Championship Game and came within one play of beating Seattle in what turned out to be the real Super Bowl, a tight, 23-17 ’Hawks victory.
In fact, going into the 2014 season, nothing is guaranteed for either the Seahawks or 49ers in the NFC West, which has become one of the toughest – if not thee toughest – divisions in the NFL. Both the Rams and Cardinals in the coming season will be major hurdles for both Seattle and San Francisco.
Just as the 49ers went to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2013 season – then were toppled by the Seahawks – the Seahawks can be toppled in 2014 by a 49ers team that is built along the same lines as Seattle: dynamic young quarterback, great defense, solid running game, proven head coach and a great organization.
The offseason moves by both teams will go a long way toward determining what happens next season. Free agency and the draft will add key pieces for both teams. But the 49ers are confident they can go into their first season in a new home stadium primed to reach the 49th Super Bowl – and how perfect would that be? – when it’s held on Feb. 1, 2015.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the 49ers and Seahawks are paired in the NFL’s nationally televised season opener on a Thursday night, in fact. What better matchup could the league want, to pair the NFL’s two most rugged teams and fiercest rivals?
“We’re going to come out and play football against you next year,” said 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick this past week, when asked about his outlook toward the Seahawks. “It’s a great rivalry for the NFL. It’s going to be a tough game – I think both teams know that going in. I do have a lot of friends on the Seahawks still. When we finished the gme, I said, ‘Good job, good luck in the Super Bowl.’
- PHOTOS: NYC's Pre-Super Bowl Parties
“But at the same time, when we step on the field, we know it’s business.”
And the business of GM Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh this offseason is to tweak the roster to keep pace with the Seahawks – and perhaps carry it a notch or two above their NFC West rivals – to be ready for that first meeting in the 2014 season.
It’s only eight months away.