49ers

George Kittle factored into Seahawks' Jamal Adams trade, John Schneider says

George Kittle factored into Seahawks' Jamal Adams trade, John Schneider says

The Seattle Seahawks know they missed out on an NFC West title by inches last season, coming up less than a yard short of a division-clinching win against the 49ers in Week 17.

Seattle also knows the 49ers' biggest advantage over them comes in the form of tight end George Kittle, the type of explosive playmaker that can change the flow of a game in an instant. In order to stop Kittle, or at least match up better with him, the Seahawks knew they had to improve their safety group and add an equally dynamic player on the other side of the ball to mitigate Kittle's impact.

The Seahawks traded a 2021 first-round and third-round pick, a 2022 first-round pick and safety Bradley McDougald to the New York Jets for star safety Jamal Adams and a 2022 fourth-round pick. The Seahawks have been criticized for giving up too much in the trade, but Seattle general manager John Schneider believes it was a necessary move for his team to match up with Kittle and the other dynamic athletes in the NFC West.

"We needed to get faster on our team this year, especially on defense, and I feel like we have done that," Schneider told NBC Sports' Peter King on "The Peter King Podcast." "If you look at the National Football League now, especially our division, with all the crossers and talented tight ends that we have, it's important Ugo [Amadi] and [Marquise] Blair and [Quandre] Diggs and now Jamal, it's a really good group. We also have Lano Hill who two years ago was playing ... at a very, very high level three games in a row and then had a very serious hip injury. He's had a really nice offseason so we're looking forward to seeing him as well.

"But you have to have so much speed on the back, especially when we're playing against Kyler Murray and George Kittle and Robert Woods and all these guys that seem like they are just running all over the place. You've got to have as much speed on the field. So adding a guy like Jamal who has that versatility to play down in the box and play in the hole and play man coverage is really important to us."

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

To be sure, the Seahawks gave up a ton to acquire a player who will ask them to back up the Brinks truck for an extension after this season. But that's the price of acquiring young, game-changing talent in today's NFL. The Seahawks have the second-best quarterback in the league in Russell Wilson and need to start surrounding him with the requisite talent in order to maximize his prime.

The 49ers' roster, as a whole, is better than the Seahawks' group. But Wilson's talent makes the talent gap disappear, as we saw last season. The 49ers and Seahawks played one game that was decided in overtime and one that came down to the final play of regulation. Kittle gave the 49ers the biggest advantage over the Seahawks. Instead of trying to add to their tight end group to shrink that gap, the Seahawks opted to add one of the best safeties in the NFL to make life harder for Kittle when the two teams meet.

Adams is an athletic, versatile safety who excels in a number of roles. His arrival in Seattle undoubtedly shrinks the gap between the two rivals even further.

[RELATED: Lynch explains why 49ers weren't in on Adams trade]

The Seahawks gave the Jets a haul for Adams. Such is life in today's NFL.

Seattle has an elite quarterback, but the 49ers are a massive roadblock in their path to a Super Bowl. In order to be the best, you have to beat the best and the 49ers are the kings of the NFC West. Schneider and the Seahawks are hoping Adams flips the fight in their favor.

49ers' Mike McGlinchey marvels at Trent Williams' 'jaw-dropping' skills

49ers' Mike McGlinchey marvels at Trent Williams' 'jaw-dropping' skills

Left tackle Trent Williams enters a unique situation with the 49ers.

He is showing a whole new set of teammates in training camp the reasons he was a seven-time Pro Bowl player during his up-and-down time in Washington.

“He’s been an unbelievable guy to work with over the last two weeks or so,” 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “Even just in walk through, you get a little jaw-dropped by how smooth he is and how much of an athlete he truly is at his size.”

The 49ers acquired the enormous and enormously skilled Williams in a draft-day trade to replace All-Decade left tackle Joe Staley, who had already informed the team he was retiring. Williams played his first four seasons in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington on the staff of his father, Mike.

“And it’s going to be cool to pick his brain over the next couple weeks going through training camp once live bullets start flying and seeing him back in action,” McGlinchey said of Williams.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Williams comes to the 49ers after being part of, perhaps, the most dysfunctional organization in professional football.

A year ago, he revealed the team’s medical staff botched a diagnosis of a cancerous tumor on his head. Williams held out through training camp and the early part of the season as he sought a trade. He reported to the team in October, after the trade deadline, and was later placed on the non-football injury list. He never stepped on the field during the 2019 season.

[RELATEDSteve Young believes 49ers must prove lasting power in 2020 NFL season]

McGlinchey said Williams fits in perfectly with the 49ers’ culture.

“We are grown men, but we act like little kids a lot of the time,” McGlinchey said. “We have a lot of fun and we have the ability to compete with each other at all times and fly around and there’s just a charge of energy that’s inside our building and it just keeps getting more and more.

“Trent has been exposed to that for the first two weeks now, and it’s kind of a re-ignitor to the career that he’s had, and it gives him a new excitement for what we’re able to do.”

Steve Young believes 49ers must prove lasting power in 2020 NFL season

Steve Young believes 49ers must prove lasting power in 2020 NFL season

The goal, of course, is to build a contender that remains a contender on a yearly basis.

The 49ers emerged last season from the ruins of a 4-12 year that landed them the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The club came within a disastrous seven-minute stretch in the fourth quarter of winning Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs.

This is the season that Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young believes will show whether the 49ers have what it takes to remain among the elite teams in the NFL in future years.

After all, Young said defensive coaching staffs around the league undoubtedly have spent countless hours during the COVID-19 months searching for ways to decode the 49ers’ offense.

“That will be tested this year and it’ll be fun to watch,” Young said during a virtual event to remember the late Dwight Clark. “Because if they can withstand that scrutiny and that intensity, that’s when you think, ‘Oh, we’re going to be great for a long time.’ Because that’s a big filter, a big hurdle to get through.

“One of the easier hurdles is coming from behind. People aren’t really ready for you. You get good really fast, and you kind of run through the season and run the table. It almost happened last year. That’s the best kind of way to do it. Now comes the hard work, and if they can do it this year, you got to think that they can do it every year for four or five years.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Coach Kyle Shanahan designed and called plays for an offense that ranked fourth in the NFL in yards gained and seconds in points at 29.9 per game during the regular season. The 49ers finished 13-3, won the NFC West and cruised through the NFC side of the bracket with 17-point victories over Minnesota and Green Bay.

“There’s an extra level of challenge this year because the rest of the league now knows that they are the kings,” Young said. “They’re everybody’s homecoming game. Every game that they play will be the biggest game that other teams play.

"The challenge will be put out there.”

Young still marvels at the offensive innovation he witnessed when the 49ers traveled to face the New Orleans Saints in December in a key game for NFC playoff seedings.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns, and the 49ers rolled up 516 yards of total offense in 48-46 victory at the Superdome.

[RELATEDHow Jimmy G, Trent Williams feel about fan-less games]

“It was a remarkable game to watch, the play-callers and the offensive coordination,” Young said. “I can’t remember ever feeling that way ever before where I just like, ‘My gosh, the innovation and what’s happening in this game is amazing.’ "

That game serves as a challenge to every defense on the 49ers' 2020 schedule, as well as a manual for offensive coaches, Young said.

“And, then, that game now, is now ... everyone in the world is going to run those plays, and learn how to defense those plays, right?" Young said.

“You got to know that most everything that Kyle and the 49ers did last year that was innovative, will now be ubiquitous throughout the league.”