Niners Nation and Field Gulls are two very different sites. One is full of respectful fans who cheer loudly for the victory of their team and who always love a good football discussion. And the other is Niners Nation. Kidding. They have a pretty good site and right now they are pumping out loads of content, especially some comparative articles about the NFCW. FG is great, but sometimes I need some variety in my football info consumption. NN has some pretty smart writers and commenters and I enjoy reading their threads and getting a sense of their grasp of the NFCW.
The biggest piece of NFL news to come by recently was the NFL draft. The Niners picked up a great draft on paper while the Seahawks did their usual voodoo and got the typical C-/D+ grade that the experts usually give because nobody knows what the heck the Seahawks are doing, except for them. This, coupled with the loss of some starters, has led to the good folks (and some of the troll-y folks too) at NN to believe that they have reclaimed the NFCW crown. However, their analysis, like any true fans analysis, is slightly tinged with the distorting effects of homer goggles.
Therefore, I am going to run through their argument and point out where it applies to their team as well or simply does not apply to the Seahawks.
1. Loss of starters
Out of all of these, only the losses of GT, CC, and RB are significant, meaning that it isn't immediately clear how we will replicate that production. However, every team loses players to free agency, its the nature of the salary cap era. Futhermore, the Seahawks did exactly what every good team does when players leave, it got cheap rookies. Is Paul Richardson or Kevin Norwood going to replicate Golden's production? Nobody knows, but they aren't going to be worthless regardless if they were a "reach" or a "steal". Clemons' and Red's production is going to have to be replicated by some combination of Avril, Bennett, Irvin, Marsh, and Mayowa/Jeffcoat/O'bi for Clemons and Bennett, Hill, YOLO, Scruggs, and maybe Marsh. If it only takes one of them to match their production, great, but the strength of this team is that we have so many options that its production is going to happen in some combination or other.
The thing that the Niners fans don't seem to understand is that relatively few of our players are nearing a theoretical aging cliff. Only a handful of our players are above 30, and thats including Jon Ryan. The young talent on this team should continue to improve, or at least maintain their levels of performance.
2. Piss poor draft
Personally, I find this one the most frustrating. We have no idea how good these draft classes are going to be. Value of a draft in May means nothing in September if the players turn out to be busts. Crowning your draftees as the greatest thing since sliced bread is not an unusual response, but an intellectually dishonest one. They have shown nothing in pads and until they do so, it is impossible to accuratly predict how good they are. Something I think we do well at FG is realize that we draft raw-er prospects than most, and we hope that PC can coach them up. Sometimes (usually) he can, but not always. Therefore, our drafting strategy is NOT to always pick the most NFL ready picks, but the guys that have the physical capabilities to be great NFL starters.
3. Percy Harvin
Percy Harvin gets his own bullet point because Niners fans seem unable to understand what he is. Hes had two major injuries that happened to happen within the same year. That does not indicate injury-proneness. It is an accident of timing. If he gets hurt and misses 3-4 games this year, I'll eat crow and admit he is injury prone, but we have 1.5 lost seasons to point out how he is "injury-prone". That simply isn't enough data to predict he will be injured going forward. The other issue is that they view him as just a good slot receiver. He is more than that. He is a person the defense needs to account for at all times, or else he'll burn you for 30 yards on a sweep. The writer's here at FG have done a way better job than I could at explaining how important PH is.
These are just some thoughts I had when reading NN threads and their thoughts on how good their team will be. Despite what I have written, I do think the Niners have a great team this year and if all their draft picks pan out like they hope they will be scary... Of course, if all our draft picks pan out as well, I just don't seem them able to snatch the NFCW crown.