SANTA CLARA — Just a few years ago, the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks were supposed to be the best rivalry in the NFL, if not all pro sports.
A lot has happened since then: The Hawks went on to win a Super Bowl after beating the Niners in the NFC Championship in 2013; the 49ers moved to Santa Clara the following season and haven’t been to the playoffs since.
Now, the 49ers are trying to emulate their former rival, which never went through a complete freefall.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has implemented a similar defensive scheme to the Seahawks’. Unfortunately for the Faithful, he doesn’t have the personnel in place to replicate the results. But it looked passable in Week 1.
What wasn’t acceptable was the 49er offensive line, which appears to be in trouble against one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL — one that went from strong to indestructible with the addition of Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets two weeks ago.
“Their front seven is loaded, I don’t know how else to put it,” quarterback Brian Hoyer said. “… It’s a great combination of scheme and players, and they’ve been playing it for a long time.”
There’s no good way for the 49ers to replicate what Seattle brings.
You can run the same schemes, but you can’t copy what Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor do. You can pump up the speakers during practice, but it won’t create the same urgency as the noise in CenturyLink Field.
All you can really do is hope that your imitation game takes hold over the long run.
JOHN LYNCH, DOUBLE AGENT
General manager John Lynch built a reputation as a thoroughly prepared broadcaster before he took over with the 49ers. He might’ve was a little too thorough, if you ask Pete Carroll.
“[Lynch] was in-depth beyond where most guys go,” the Seahawks head coach said in a conference call on Wednesday. “He wanted to know why. And ‘What were you thinking?’ Those kinds of things. I didn’t really put it together. I thought he’d be doing Monday Night Football or something, some day. But he was adding up his background and reservoir of information at the time. It makes sense it came out to get him a GM job.”
Carroll joked he was disappointed that Lynch landed in the division. But with where these two rosters currently stand, he doesn’t have much to worry about for years to come.
Lynch is prepared and effective, but he’s not a miracle worker.
Alex Smith doesn’t hold back on his early 49ers’ tenure: The culture was unhealthy. pic.twitter.com/Eycni1D15i
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) September 13, 2017
ALEX SMITH IS FED UP
After firing Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke earlier this year, Jed York mentioned rebuilding the 49ers’ “culture” no fewer than 16 times.
So it had to hurt the CEO to hear former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith slam the Niners operation on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger.”
“I knew how dysfunctional the work environment I was in at the time was … the culture at the time in the building, those first six years for me,” Smith said. “I knew that it was really dysfunctional. I knew that this wasn’t the way that successful places operate.”
Impressive to see Smith finally air it out.
Contact Jacob C. Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @jacobc_palmer.