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49ers 2023 Opponent Preview: Seattle Seahawks

The countdown to training camp and the 2023 NFL regular season has begun with the league releasing report days for each of the 32 clubs on Wednesday. The San Francisco 49ers have set a rookie report day of July 18, and veterans are expected back in Santa Clara a week later on July 25.

As all 32 clubs begin gearing up for training camp, is breaking down some of the key matchups of the upcoming season in this 2023 opponent preview series. We'll also hear directly from the opposition on their club's biggest offseason moves.

We're kicking things off with NFC West rival the Seattle Seahawks. The two teams are set to meet in Week 12 on Thanksgiving Day and then again in Week 14 at Levi's® Stadium.

2022 Season Recap

The Seattle Seahawks were one of two teams from the NFC West to clinch a postseason berth in 2022, locking down the final wild card spot of the conference with a 9-8 record. A couple key events fell into place in Week 18, including the team's overtime victory against the Los Angeles Rams and the Detroit Lions win over the Green Bay Packers, which helped the Seahawks secure the No. 7 seed and their third meeting with the 49ers over the course of the 2022 season.

Seattle's playoff run started and ended at Levi's® Stadium during Super Wild Card Weekend. San Francisco led by just one point at halftime but outscored the Seahawks 25-6 in the final two quarters to complete the season sweep.

The Seahawks had a promising start to the 2022 campaign, winning six of their first nine contests with their new signal caller Geno Smith under center, however, the back half of the year was much less consistent. The team dropped five of its last eight games while also dealing with season-ending injuries to several of its playmakers. Players who saw their season cut short included running back Rashaad Penny (ankle), safety Jamal Adams (quad), linebacker Jordyn Brooks (knee) and defensive lineman Bryan Mone (knee).

Key Offseason Additions

Drafted Players

  • CB Devon Witherspoon
  • WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
  • LB Derick Hall
  • RB Zach Charbonnet
  • OL Anthony Bradford
  • DL Cameron Young
  • DL Mike Morris
  • C Olusegun Oluwatimi
  • S Jerrick Reed II
  • RB Kenny Mcintosh

Acquired and Retained Free Agents

  • QB Geno Smith
  • K Jason Myers
  • LB/FB Nick Bellore
  • G Phil Haynes
  • QB Drew Lock
  • WR Cody Thompson
  • DE Dre'mont Jones
  • DE Jarran Reed
  • C Evan Brown
  • LB Devin Bush
  • S Julian Love
  • LB Bobby Wagner

Coaching Changes and Promotions

  • Secondary coach: Roy Anderson
  • Pass rush specialist: BT Jordan
  • Quarterbacks coach: Greg Olson
  • Offensive assistant: Robbie Picazo
  • Offensive assistant: Donovan Jackson
  • Defensive passing game coordinator/senior defensive assistant: Karl Scott
  • Defensive backs/cornerbacks: DeShawn Shead
  • Defensive assistant/defensive line: Will Tukuafu
  • Defensive assistant: Neiko Thorpe

Hear From the Other Side

Get an insider's perspective as senior reporter John Boyle answered some questions regarding the club's offseason moves.

How significant were the re-signings of QB Geno Smith and LB Bobby Wagner as the Seahawks began putting together the roster this offseason?

Keeping Smith around is huge for the Seahawks after his Pro Bowl and AP Comeback Player of the Year season in 2022. Yes, the Seahawks could have looked to the draft with two first-round picks had they not re-signed Smith—though as it turns out they'd have had to trade up to get one of the top three options who all went ahead of Seattle's No. 5 pick—but by re-signing Smith, and backup Drew Lock for that matter, the Seahawks have continuity at the most important position in the sport and have a chance to build off of what was a good season for the offense in 2022. Also, by going in to the draft with quarterback sorted out, the Seahawks were able to use the considerable draft haul they got in the Russell Wilson trade to continue to upgrade the roster at other positions. Even better, the Seahawks and Smith were able to work out a deal that didn't hamstring the team from a salary cap standpoint, giving them the financial flexibility to make some moves in free agency (more on that in a moment).

As for Wagner, bringing him back was significant for several reasons. First and foremost, the Seahawks had a clear need at inside linebacker due to Jordyn Brooks' late-season ACL injury and with Cody Barton leaving in free agency, and as Wagner's second-team All-Pro season in Los Angeles showed, he's still one of the game's best off-ball linebackers. Wagner will also, of course, bring leadership and experience to an otherwise relatively young defense that is looking to bounce back from a subpar 2022 campaign. The move was also very popular not just with fans, but with numerous players who were in Pete Carroll's ear this offseason until Seattle got the deal done.

What was the team's biggest free agent move (aside from Smith and Wagner) heading into 2023?

As mentioned above, Smith's contract gave the Seahawks more flexibility to make moves this offseason than if they had used the franchise tag. And on the first day of free agency, Seattle, a team that usually isn't aggressive early in the process, signed Dre'Mont Jones to bolster the defensive line, landing a player they tried to get from Denver a year earlier in the Wilson trade. The Seahawks, like so many teams, have long been looking for an elite interior pass rusher, and they believe they've found that in Jones, who is still only 26 years old and coming off his best season.

Another name to mention here is safety Julian Love, who was somewhat of a surprise addition given the money the Seahawks already had invested in that position in Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. Love wasn't necessarily a player the Seahawks were expecting to add this offseason, but they saw him as simply too good of a player to pass up when he was still available.

"The opportunity to get Julian, who's a remarkable player, he had a remarkable season last year—I can't remember a guy who played over a thousand snaps and played over 200 snaps on special as well. That's an unusual mix," Carroll said. "That's just one aspect of what Julian brings. He's a really versatile football player, he called their defenses—he had the green dot—he's a captain. It's a very rare opportunity to get a guy like that, so we jumped at it."

Love gives the Seahawks another high-end starter to pair with Diggs if Adams, who tore his quadriceps tendon last season, isn't back for the start of the season, and when all three are available, Carroll said the plan is to frequently play with three safeties on the field.

What are your early impressions of the 2023 rookie class? Any early standouts during OTAs?

After hitting a home run with the 2022 draft class, which featured rookie of the year finalists Tariq Woolen and Kenneth Walker III, as well as starting tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, to name a few, the Seahawks feel like they once again added several players who will be able to make an immediate impact in 2023. While their exact roles won't be defined until later in the summer, there is little doubt that first-round picks Devon Witherspoon and Jaxon Smith-Njigba—the first players selected at their respective positions—will have significant roles. Second-round pick Derek Hall should feature in the outside linebacker rotation right off the bat, while fellow second-rounder Zach Charbonnet gives the Seahawks needed running back depth and talent to pair with Walker. Plenty of players selected in the mid-to-late rounds will also have a chance to compete for significant roles early on as well. Fourth-round pick Cameron Young fills a clear need at nose tackle and could very well end up starting there right away, and Carroll said fourth-round pick Anthony Bradford and fifth-round pick Olu Oluwatimi will both be in the competition for starting jobs at guard and center, respectively.

How are new coaches settling in to their new roles – specifically quarterbacks coach Greg Olson?

The Seahawks lost longtime Pete Carroll assistant Dave Canales this offseason, as he became the offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay, but Carroll is confident his offense is still in good hands with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron heading into his third season, and with longtime quarterbacks coach Greg Olson joining the staff.

"That was a great get for us," Carroll said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Greg brings experience, really a quarterback guru guy. Everybody that I know that has ever coached with him loves the guy, and I can see why. We've already been together working and doing stuff. Dave Canales had been such a steady for us and been just part of our woodwork, and I don't mean to make light of that; he's been such a factor for me representing what we believe in and all that. So when you lose that, you don't know what's going to happen. Well, shoot, we hit with Greg Olson. So we feel very, very fortunate. I think he's going to be great for Geno (Smith). He's a real disciplinarian. He's a real fundamental guy, as well as he's creative as a coordinator, he's called plays, all that kind of stuff. He adds a ton to our staff."

The 49ers and Seahawks will meet see each other twice in a span of three weeks in 2023 (one of those being a Thanksgiving Day game), how does this add to an already fierce NFC rivalry?

Last season showed that, while the Seahawks were a playoff-caliber team on the rise, they still had work to do to catch up to the NFC West champs, who beat them three times, postseason included. The Seahawks hope they made the right moves this offseason to close that gap, but they won't know for sure until that three-week stretch in November and December, which starts with what figures to be a very exciting Thanksgiving matchup. Those two games are part of a very difficult four-game stretch for the Seahawks, who play at Dallas and at home against Philadelphia following the two 49ers games. That stretch very well could determine if Seattle is able to topple the 49ers to get back on top of the NFC West.

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