How the Seattle Seahawks can close the gap with the San Francisco 49ers

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

Seahawks should take a page out of 49ers playbook

About a week ago, I made the argument for franchise tagging Geno Smith. Piggybacking off that, I went on to say if Seattle were considering drafting a quarterback in round-1, Anthony Richardson should be the only target. Here, I argue why it would be wise to re-sign Geno Smith and hold off on selecting a quarterback in round 1.

With the intention of closing the gap between Seattle and San Francisco, let’s examine how the 49ers established their dominance over the last couple of seasons. In 2017 when they hired Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers also acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in-season. While Garoppolo was unproven in the NFL, he was undefeated as a starter in New England and went 5-0 for the 49ers in the 2017-2018 season.

He was rewarded a long-term deal in the offseason, making him the 4th highest-paid QB, trailing only Aaron Rodgers ($33.5M), Matt Ryan ($30M), and Kirk Cousins ($28M) in average salary. At the time, it seemed ludicrous to give a 5-year, $137.5M deal to Garoppolo, who never even played a whole season as a starter. But, San Francisco actually made the right move. Knowing quarterbacks reset the market nearly every offseason, the deal given to Garoppolo looked like a bargain 2-years into his contract.

Building from within

Primarily because of the results produced. San Francisco locked up their franchise quarterback early and built the rest of their team through the draft. Some of the marquee names they drafted after re-signing Jimmy Garoppolo were OT Mike McGlinchey, DE Nick Bosa, WR Deebo Samuel, DT Javon Kinlaw, and WR Brandon Aiyuk. Keep in mind that in 2019 when they drafted Bosa, that draft was headlined by quarterbacks Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, and the late Dwayne Haskins.

With Kyler Murray going number 1 overall, San Francisco decided to continually build around Garoppolo as he was entering his 2nd-year of that massive deal. More importantly, his contract was paying dividends as the 49ers were having continued success year in and year out. Let’s take a look at what they accomplished with Jimmy Garoppolo under contract starting in 2018.

  • 2018: 4-12 record — Garoppolo injured early on in the season
  • 2019: 13-3 record — lost to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl
  • 2020: 6-10 record — Garoppolo once again dealing with injuries throughout the season
  • 2021: 10-7 record — lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship game
  • 2022: 13-4 record — lost to the Eagles in the NFC Championship game

This thread isn’t to persuade readers that Jimmy Garoppolo is a great quarterback. In fact, I’ve stated on multiple occasions that the 49ers win in spite of his performances. The larger idea is that they were still able to build a championship team around him despite giving him a big contract. In 2019, when the 49ers made the Super Bowl, Jimmy Garoppolo was the 8th highest-paid QB in the NFL. This touches upon the philosophy that I discussed in the previous slide. Which brings us to the next slide.