One Seattle way to look at the the arrival of the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl — other than plunging a finger down the nearest available throat — is that it sets up the 49ers-Seahawks twice-a-year meetings in the NFC West as happenings, not just games.
Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick did Sunday virtually the identical thing to Atlanta as Seahawks QB Russell Wilson did a week earlier in the Georgia Dome — come back from a big early deficit to take the lead in the fourth quarter. They’ve been twinned up a lot.
San Francisco had the better defense, stopping the Falcons on downs on their next-to-last possession, hurting QB Matt Ryan in the process, then leaving only six seconds for the final possession. The 28-24 win in the NFC title game means San Francisco makes the World Series and Super Bowl four months apart (pause for gag reflex).
Looking ahead, Kaepernick in his second year and Wilson in his first suggests several years of look-alike shootouts. The two established themselves as the trendiest of QB trendies, flashing the read option play as well as the complete set of passing skills required for excellence.
Entering the day, ESPN Stats and Info compiled some numbers over the previous nine weeks of the NFL season with its QBR system that takes into account rushing as well as passing. The conclusion: Kaepernick and Wilson were the best.
1. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco, 82.8
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle 81.7.
3. Peyton Manning, Denver, 79.6.
4. Cam Newton, Carolina, 76.2.
5, Tom Brady, New England, 72.0
For ones so young, that level of efficiency is remarkable, and a credit to both coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, for recognizing what they had and making the controversial decisions to bench capable and more experienced starters to go with the kids.
As a sidebar to the success, ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reported that an unnamed representative of Wilson’s, either agent Bus Cook or someone who works for him, called the Seahawks this week “insisting that something be done” to improve Wilson’s slotted third-round rookie contract.
That would be nice except for the NFL rules that prohibit such a thing. Wilson signed a mandatory four-year deal worth $2.996 million in total compensation, which, by the rules of the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, cannot be renegotiated for the first three years of the contract.
ProFootballTalk.com speculated that it may have been Wilson who was the source of the idea, based on an interview he did on a national radio show in which hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic talked up his lucrative future.
Even if they could do it, the Seahawks are already paying backup Matt Flynn $26 million over three years to manage coin flips. So no, Wilson has to wait for his massive payday, and take the risk that injuries may cut him down first (not a short joke).
But a trade of Flynn is a distinct possibility, not only because he could fetch high value and relieve salary cap pressure, but because it would remove the awkwardness of the salary disparity.
And Wilson cannot be cut and re-signed to a new deal because he would have to pass through waivers. Not on Pete Carroll’s life.
So, it isn’t much solace for Seattle fans who saw the Seahawks play both the Niners and Falcons on even terms in three games, but the future of the rivalry between the two Left Coasties will have both prodigies in charge as multiple logs get tossed on the fire by the time September rolls around.