Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Seahawks’ Acquisition of Jamal Adams Isn’t a Checkmate to Kyle Shanahan and 49ers

Levin T. Black
Jul 27, 2020 at 10:30 AM


The Seattle Seahawks' trade for safety Jamal Adams gives the San Francisco 49ers' division rival one of the players best suited to defend an offense that features running backs and tight ends in the passing game.

The San Francisco 49ers have perhaps the league's top offensive mind in head coach Kyle Shanahan while the Seahawks have a defensive guru for a head coach in Pete Carroll. When the 49ers have the ball the two go toe-to-toe on play calls in a manner that can only be compared to a game of chess.

Shanahan calls passing plays designed to get tight end George Kittle or one of the bevy of players who line up in the backfield open as much as any coach in the NFL.

Just fewer than 50 percent of the 49ers' passing yards in 2019 went to a back or tight end. Kyle Juszczyk led all fullbacks in receiving yards last year despite missing four games, Kittle broke the single-season receiving yards record for tight ends in 2018 and had another 1,000-plus yard season in 2019 and the 49ers are primed to get back a running back capable of running routes like a wide receiver in Jerrick McKinnon.

I list all this off to highlight how important it is for 49ers opponents to be able to defend those types of routes, which leads me to my next point. The Seahawks are now the team with the best personnel to do just that.

Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner wasn't great in coverage last season but is regarded as one of the best coverage linebackers of the 2000s. Adams with Wagner gives the Seahawks two All-Pro level talents who are particularly great at matching up with tight ends and running backs in coverage.

Carroll will have options on how to deploy Wagner and Adams but one way seems much more likely than others. The Seahawks can have Adams in a straight forward man coverage against Kittle. Meanwhile, Wagner remains in his typical zone but can spy any back running a route.

This doesn't mean the Seahawks can simply shut down the 49ers offense. Adams is not infallible for starters and Kittle is a top talent as well. He can win the match-up.

Kittle has already beaten an All-Pro safety one-on-one. He had six catches, 79 yards and a touchdown against Arizona's Budda Baker last year.

The 49ers would have lost that game without Kittle's 30-yard touchdown. Beating Seattle, and winning the NFC West, may come down to Kittle getting the best of Adams.

Of course Shanahan winning the chess match against Carroll will be as big as anything. Seattle's lack of a pass rush in 2020 will give Shanahan time to unleash plays that he may not have trusted last year. In 2019, the Seahawks had Jadeveon Clowney routinely getting to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Clowney had a sack and five quarterback hits in the Seahawks' overtime win against the 49ers in 2019. Without him, the Seahawks could get gashed with longer to develop pass plays. Jalen Hurd and Brandon Aiyuk should help in that regard.

The games between 49ers and Seahawks were already marquee games. The Seahawks adding Adams will add an extra level of spice.

The head-to-head battles between Adams and Kittle in the coming years could very well become one for the ages. Two All-Pros lining up opposite of each other just as they enter their primes is something to be treasured.

As Kittle would no doubt say, "Let's get ready to rumble."
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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