49ers-Seahawks competition heating up early
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There's no need to wait until the start of the regular season to watch the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks compete.

With the new league year just four days old, the top two teams in the NFC West -- and, perhaps, the NFC -- are providing some interesting comparisons on paper.

Pete Carroll's team acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin in a trade -- in effect, asking Jim Harbaugh, "What's your deal?" Later that day, Harbaugh's 49ers dealt for wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

While most of the free agent action for the 49ers have consisted of their free agents signing elsewhere, the Seahawks have added to their pass rush with the signings of defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.

The 49ers and Seahawks split their on-field meetings last season, but the 49ers won the NFC West by a half-game over the Seahawks with an 11-4-1 record. The Seahawks were the best team in the league in scoring defense, while the 49ers ranked No. 2. These are two very good teams that have built up a spirited rivalry over the past couple of seasons.

The offseason certainly is not finished for the 49ers. They are looking to add a veteran safety and a big cornerback to compete with the incumbents and any draft picks for prominent roles.

The 49ers figure to be the most active team in the NFL during the draft with an expected 14 draft picks, including an anticipated three compensatory selections.

It led one prominent league source with intimate knowledge of the 49ers to predict plenty of surprises during the three-day draft, which runs Thursday, April 25, through Saturday, April 27.

"The 49ers have the firepower to make more moves and influence the draft more than any team in the NFL," the source told CSNBayArea.com. "With all those draft picks, and half of them who can't truly make the 49ers' roster, they will be the most dangerous player in the draft. They'll shake it up like we've never seen before."

The positions at which the 49ers can be expected to address during the draft are defensive back, defensive line, tight end (to replace backup Delanie Walker), backup quarterback (to replace Alex Smith) and, just generally, best player available as the competition with the Seahawks continues . . .

WR Percy Harvin (Trade from Minnesota): Harvin played in just nine games last season but still caught 62 passes for 677 yards and three touchdowns. He also averaged 35.9 yards with a touchdown on 16 kickoff returns. He joins a receiving corps that also features Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. With Harvin on the team, it led the Seahawks to release receiver Ben Obomanu and allow kick returner Leon Washington to sign with New England as a free agent.
DE Cliff Avril (UFA, Detroit): Avril recorded 39.5 sacks in five seasons with the Lions, including 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons while playing every game.
DE Michael Bennett (UFA, Tampa Bay): The four-year veteran recorded nine sacks while playing starting all 16 games for the Buccaneers last season. Avril and Bennett give Seattle two more pass rushers to team with Bruce Irvin and Chris Clemons, whose season ended in the playoffs with a torn ACL.

WR Anquan Boldin (Trade from Baltimore): The 49ers already have Michael Crabtree, their leading receiver. Mario Manningham and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, agreed to an approximate $2 million pay cut to remain with the team. Manningham is not expected to be ready for the start of training camp but hopes to be available for the start of the regular season after undergoing surgery to repair ligament tears in his left knee. If Manningham's healthy, he should be the No. 3 man. Boldin gives the 49ers a big-bodied receiver who can make tough catches on third downs and in the red zone. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick will have to learn that he can throw to Boldin even when he's covered.
DL Glenn Dorsey (UFA, Kansas City): Starting and backup nose tackles Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois received nice contracts from Philadelphia and Indianapolis, respectively. Dorsey is penciled in as the starter at nose tackle. He will play between right end Justin Smith and left end Ray McDonald. With just four sacks in five NFL seasons, Dorsey is expected to come off the field in pass-rush situations.
LB Dan Skuta (UFA, Cincinnati): He's an under-the-radar acquisition but he should help the 49ers' kick coverage units. In addition to being a top backup to Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, expect Skuta to get a long look as an extra blocker in short-yardage and goal-line situations on offense.