Yet, if the Seattle Seahawks do end up landing receiver Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings, as has been reported by Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the 49ers are going to have some serious competition for that title.
Jay Glazer @JayGlazer
The Seahawks and Vikings have agreed to a trade that send Harvin to Seattle for draft picks, pending Harvin passing a physical2013-3-11 17:02:10
In fact, the acquisition of a dynamic and versatile playmaker like Harvin might be enough for the Seahawks to tilt the scales in their favor. Like the 49ers, all the pieces seem to be in place for a deep run in 2013 and beyond.
Everything starts with second-year quarterback Russell Wilson, who is coming off one of the better rookie seasons at his position in recent memory.
Despite head coach Pete Carroll limiting Wilson and the passing game early on, the third-rounder went on to complete over two-thirds of his passes for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for nearly 500 yards and four scores.
In the postseason, Wilson accounted for four scores, nearly leading the 11-5 Seahawks past the top-seeded Falcons and onto the conference title game.
But Wilson didn't get that far alone. His defense and supporting cast more than pulled their own weight.
Last season, The Seahawks defense finished fourth in total defense (306.2 yards a game) and first in scoring defense (15.3 points).
Young, emerging playmakers like cornerback Richard Sherman (arguably the best at his position in the NFL), safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor (the top safety tandem in the NFL) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (finalist for Defensive Rookie of the Year) lead a fast, attacking unit that should be among the league's elite for several years.
Running back Marshawn Lynch, who general manager John Schneider aggressively traded for, finished third in the NFL in rushing yards (1,590) and fifth in touchdowns (11) in 2012. He's only 27 years old and should have a handful of productive years left in the tank.
Receivers Sidney Rice and Golden Tate each averaged more than 15 yards per reception in 2012, and the two combined to catch 14 of Wilson's 26 touchdowns.
Adding Harvin—one of the more unique weapons in football—to the mix would give Seattle's offense a chance to make another big jump next season.
In just nine games last season, Harvin caught 62 passes for 677 yards and three scores as a receiver, ran 22 times for 96 yards and one score as a running back and averaged an NFL-high 35.9 yards with one score as a kick returner.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), no receiver in the NFL averaged more than Harvin's 8.7 yards after the catch in 2012, and his catch rate of 76.5 was third, behind only Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers and Brandon Stokley of the Denver Broncos. Harvin also forced an NFL-high 22 missed tackles among receivers despite missing seven games.
Utilizing Harvin in the read-option alongside Wilson is another dangerous wrinkle the Seahawks could feature.
His presence and immediate impact on offense could be enough for the Seahawks to be considered favorites to win not only the NFC West, but the entire conference. As it stands now, the Seahawks and 49ers arguably represent the two best teams in the NFC.
Seattle split with San Francisco in 2012, but the 49ers got their win early in the season when Wilson was still being handcuffed on offense.
With Wilson, an emerging young offense, elite defense and Harvin, the Seahawks could be as scary as their division rivals, at least on paper.