The Super Bowl happens Sunday in Miami between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. It will prominently feature two former Seahawks players. And that's not the only thing that may sting for Seahawks fans, as they lament what might have been. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.
For the second year in a row, an NFC West team is playing in the Super Bowl. And it's not the Seahawks. Last year, it was the Los Angeles Rams. This year, it's the Seahawks' rivals, the 49ers.
Thiel said that's only one of the reasons why Sunday's big game might be hard for Seahawks fans to stomach. The other deals with how the season ended.
"It was so close in the second game with the 49ers," he said. "Seattle had already won the first match and then on Dec. 29 the Seahawks lost 26-21 — but they came just inches from the game-winning touchdown. Jacob Hollister just missed getting in the end zone.
"The 49ers really were hoping at the end of the regular season that the playoff circumstances did not lead to a third game against the Seahawks because Russell Wilson would have been the guy they most feared, I think, in the playoffs.
"It didn't work out that way. I'm not saying that if the Seahawks did win that game they would have made the Super Bowl because there were a lot of other things that still had to happen. But it would have been easier because they would've had some home games in the playoffs.
"I do think that the Seahawk fans are entitled to feel anxiety over having yet another Super Bowl pass them by and the arch-rival being celebrated right now."
FORMER PLAYERS WILL SHINE
Two former Seahawks will be playing on Sunday: cornerback Richard Sherman for the 49ers and defensive end Frank Clark for the Chiefs.
"Richard left in sort of tense circumstances," Thiel said. "He got injured two years ago. The Seahawks declined to pay him a big contract, he left angrily and took the first offer he got from San Francisco.
"He didn't play well last year because he was still recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. This year he's been back to himself — both physically on the field and very controversial, as always.
"Frank Clark was traded in March after getting what they call a franchise tag, which is a one-year contract, from the Seahawks, who really did want to keep him. But the Seahawks went into the draft last spring with only four picks because of various transactions prior and they needed draft choices.
"They traded Frank to Kansas City for a first-round pick, a second-round pick and they swapped thirds. I think the Seahawks were entirely justified in doing that because they needed people but it's just that the guys they got weren't hugely productive."
Thiel said the exception was the second-round pick the Seahawks got in the Clark trade: wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who he called one of the best rookies in the NFL last year.
So, fans can root for Sherman or Clark on Sunday. Thiel noted there is still a lot of affection in Seattle for Sherman in particular.
WHO WILL WIN?
It's expected to be a close game, but Thiel thinks the unpredicability of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will be the difference maker. He predicts the Chiefs will win 31-29.