The Seattle Seahawk’s acquisition of Percy Harvin, combined with the injury to Michael Crabtree, appeared to have shifted the balance of power in the NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers have won the division the past two seasons but looked a little more vulnerable without their number one pass catcher for most of the season. In Harvin, the Seahawks had added a dynamic play maker who can line up all over the field and change the game whenever he touches the ball.
Things may have evened out again, however, as Percy Harvin will require surgery on his injured hip. The estimated recovery time for Harvin will be three to four months, which would have him returning sometime in November. Interestingly enough, Crabtree could also return around then.
In the meantime, both teams will have to do without their star receivers. Which team is most equipped to handle the loss? Well, Harvin has never actually taken a snap for Seattle. While he would have added a new wrinkle to their offense, it will be status quo from last season for Russell Wilson and company. They’ll rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch and the running game and hope Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin continue to develop a rapport with Wilson.
For the 49ers, the results are little more of an unknown. They have an excellent running game of their own to rely on but they need reliable pass catchers. Anquan Boldin will provide a stabilizing presence in his first season in red and gold. He’s a professional receiver who should be the same kind of security blanket for Colin Kaepernick as he was for Joe Flacco. Beyond that, though, are nothing but question marks. The team hopes A.J. Jenkins will prove his worth and step up to take the number two receiver spot. Their is some promise with Ricardo Lockette and rookie Quinton Patton but neither has much experience.
The key for the 49ers will be Vernon Davis. They will need the talented tight end to play like he did in the playoffs (12 catches, 254 yards in three game) rather than the end of the regular season (6 catches, 61 yards in six games). The 49ers must make it a point to move Davis around in the offense and keep him an active part of the game plan to help offset the loss of Crabtree.
If and when the two star receivers return, both will need to work on getting their timing back. The big difference could be that Crabtree will be returning an offense he knows and a quarterback he has a great rapport with. Harvin is still unfamiliar with Seattle’s offense and surely would need time to get in sync with Wilson. This could be a big advantage to the 49ers down the stretch.
So has the balance of power shifted in the division? The teams looks very even on paper once again but until proven otherwise, the 49ers should be considered the class of the NFC West. They have won the division two straight seasons and made the Super Bowl last year. Despite Seattle’s late season momentum, they did not make it past the divisional round of the playoffs.
Photo Credit: Joe Nicholson USA Today Sports
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