I know we are all supposed to be thinking like Trent Baalke, but I read an article on NFL.com about Ozzie Newsome and how the Ravens roster was built (pre-SB). I loved this little nugget from the intro by Daniel Jeremiah, "Ozzie always made a point to ask the important questions during NFL draft meetings. These were the two that he repeated most often: 1) "How will he fit in our locker room?"2) "Does he help us beat the Pittsburgh Steelers?" http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story/0ap1000000131971/article/baltimore-ravens-roster-shows-brilliance-of-gm-ozzie-newsome
I think that second point is especially well made and offers another door into considering the draft and free agency. The quickest way to the Super Bowl is by winning the division, and that should be our goal every year. A lot of players in this year's draft can make the Niners a better team, but we don't need to be thinking how the Niners can improve, we need to be thinking: How does this player improve the 49ers chances of beating Seahawks?
Thinking like this disproves the notion that we don't need a great NT. I've wavered on this this, but even with Percy Harvin the Seahawks are still going to be predicated on Lynch's power. We need someone clogging up the middle to limit Lynch's impact and force Wilson to throw on uncomfortable downs. DE depth is also a huge need. We need a very responsible, contained pass rush that can push the pocket and take throwing lanes and running lanes away from Wilson. His height is not a major impediment as he's already proved, but it is a slight impediment. Making him see through traffic is key. We do need another rush linebacker, but for the purposes of beating the Seahawks I think we need a pocket crusher. For these reasons I would love to see the Niners target a large DT - preferably one of the ankins bros - John Jenkins or Johnathan Hankins. I also like Jesse Williams a lot, just slightly below these two guys.
Offensively, the key to beating the Seahawks isn't to get bigger on the outside. Sherman and Browner can cover big receivers. Our problem isn't a lack of size, but a lack of speed. Crabs is our best slot receiver, and he's been much better after the catch, but he's not really a threat to hit a homerun on a slant or hitch from the slot. Sherman and Browner will have a hard time pressing if our receiver is lined up off the line of scrimmage and in the slot. The key is take away the element that makes them great, their physicality and use (sometimes illegal use...) of their hands. If AJ Jenkins can be shifty enough to get off the LOS from the slot unimpeded, then fantastic, but I'm looking at Tavon Austin as a potential game changer in this rivalry. Him and Vernon Davis will create huge problems for the middle of that defense, lessening our need to attack Sherman and Browner on the outside.
The Seahawks must be thinking like this already (I'm sure Baalke is as well) and that's why they made the bold decision to land Percy Harvin. Will it work? Time will tell, but as unbiased as I can possibly assess the situation, this was a genius move by Schneider and the Hawks (at least short term - who knows how they plan to resign/extend Sherman, Harvin, Browner, Wilson, Thomas, Chancellor, KJ Wright, Bobby Wagner, etc. when the time comes for that). An elite slot receiver is something the Niners have proven to have a lot of trouble with. Rogers was pretty good in 2011, acceptable in 2012 against the slot, but there's no way we can trust him to defend Percy man to man twice a year, especially in Seattle. He's simply not quick enough at this point in his career to do it. We need to look to add a CB with elite quickness for the slot. I like BW Webb a lot. He's undersized, but I think he has the feet to handle covering Percy Harvin (or Amendola, or Cruz) in the slot. Or that he has the potential to do that down the road.
Thoughts? Any players that you guys feel have a particular skill-set that will help us beat the 'Hawks? Agree or disagree with this philosophy, the strengths of the Seahawks I outlined, or the players I mentioned?