Seahawks Adding Greg Olsen Increases Difficulty of Coverage for 49ers' Defense
Jose Luis Sanchez III
Next seasons matchup with the Seattle Seahawks just got a bit more interesting for the San Francisco 49ers. Former Panthers' tight end Greg Olsen is signing a one-year $7 million deal that includes $5.5M guaranteed with the Seahawks.
Olsen was officially released by Carolina on February 3rd after the two sides elected on a mutual parting. The Panthers were slated to pay Olsen $11.7 million in 2020, which was too high of a number to pay the wily veteran.
Now, Olsen isn't the same threatening player that he was two or three years ago. He only tallied 52 catches for 597 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. In recent years, he has been bitten by the injury bug that has derailed his season. He's also up there in age at 35 years old, which is a contributing factor as to why he has dropped off.
However, the Seahawks adding Greg Olsen is the perfect fit. Contending teams, like Seattle, always bring in veterans to help sure up a specific area. Bringing in an experienced talent like him who still has some juice left will add a wrinkle to Seattle's offense. That wrinkle to their offense will increase the difficulty of coverage for the 49ers' defense.
The Niners in both matchups with the Seahawks in 2019 had some fits with covering their offense. A large part of that issue is because of Russell Wilson's ability to enact the scramble drill and keep the play alive. That is exactly why the 49ers' coverage skills will be put to the test in 2020 against the Seahawks.
A talented veteran like Olsen, who has experience with a mobile quarterback, is just another outlet for Wilson to look for. Olsen will have no issues finding the soft spot in a zone. With Wilson throwing to him, it enhances his threat level more than it would be with any other quarterback.
It isn't just Olsen's capability alone that is threatening. Like I said, he isn't the same dangerous and explosive player that he once was. But Olsen being brought into the mix will force the 49ers to spread their defensive coverage. Now they will have to worry about Olsen, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Will Dissly. Even backup tight end Jacob Hollister, who took over for the injured Dissly, becomes more threatening since he will take on a lesser talent as a depth player than a starter
Seattle can now run heavy sets on offense will all three of their tight ends or use a lot of 12-personnel. The amount of play-action variations they can operate from will now be insane to cover. It becomes even more of a challenging task when you consider that the Seahawks have one of the best running attacks with Chris Carson and the late-bloomer Rashaad Penny.
A stellar defense like the 49ers will undoubtedly have their fits with Seattle's offense. The talent of Olsen does help them a bit, but it is more so the formations and deception they can utilize now.
The bright side for the 49ers is that they have the best group of coverage linebackers in the game. With the emergence of Dre Greenlaw last season, the 49ers have three linebackers that can matchup with Seattle's trio of tight ends. The safeties can also handle the assignments as well. Seeing how defensive coordinator Robert Saleh schemes up his guys will be intriguing against a bulkier Seattle Seahawks offense.