The San Francisco 49ers are the defending NFC West champions, but one former NFL general manager believes the Seattle Seahawks could become the team to beat. The potential addition of defensive end Frank Clark would be a statement signing for a team that just made a surprising run to the playoffs.
Former Minnesota Vikings GM and ex-President of the Tennessee Titans Jeff Diamon recently wrote a column for The 33rd Team, explaining his thoughts on Seattle’s offseason approach. It’s clear Diamond believes that the Seahawks’ additions on the defensive line matter, but that Clark could elevate them even further.
“Seattle has added Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed on the defensive line in free agency and drafted Derick Hall as a second-round edge player,” Diamond wrote. “But Clark could play a role as the designated pass rusher from the edge… Clark could be the player who nudges the Seahawks past the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West.”
Signing Clark is a big “if,” but the three-time Pro Bowler did begin his NFL career in Seattle before his two Super Bowl titles and a four-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Clark’s History Against the 49ers
After impressing at Michigan, Clark was taken in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft by the Seahawks, but didn’t fly out the gates production-wise. Learning from a talented group of edge-rushers, Clark didn’t start a single game in 2015 and totaled three sacks according to Pro Football Reference.
In the years since, however, Clark has been a relatively consistent thorn in San Francisco’s side every time they’ve faced him. Over his last three seasons with the Seahawks before going to the Chiefs, Clark totaled 3.5 sacks in six games.
As a Chief, he even improved that return. The 49ers and Chiefs squared off twice during his four years in Kansas City, the first encounter being Super Bowl LIV and the second coming in the 2022 regular season. Clark has 2.5 sacks in those two games and added a safety during last year’s contest.
Clark coming back to the NFC West would not be ideal for any of the division’s quarterbacks, but it’s apparent that the soon-to-be 30-year-old defensive end hits a higher level against the Niners.
Former 49ers Defender Also Still Waiting in Free Agency
Like Clark, former San Francisco linebacker Kwon Alexander is currently without a team. The 28-year-old had a tough stretch while with the 49ers, playing in just 13 games over 2020 and 2021 before the team traded him to the New Orleans Saints midway through the 2021 campaign.
Now, it appears as if the linebacker is working toward a new opportunity with the Pittsburgh Steelers. ESPN insider Adam Schefter reported that Alexander met with Pittsburgh on May 15.
“Jets’ free-agent and former Pro Bowl LB Kwon Alexander is visiting the Steelers tonight,” Schefter wrote on Twitter.
Alexander hasn’t fared much better after departing San Francisco, starting 20 games over a possible 34 contests in the last two seasons with the Saints and New York Jets.
The 2017 Pro Bowler acknowledged the report about the Steelers too, dropping an “eyes emoji” in his own post shortly after Schefter’s Tweet.