For the younger readers, the idea that the Seattle Seahawks used to not matter to the San Francisco 49ers seems insane. But back in the 1990s and earlier, the Seahawks couldn’t have been more irrelevant to the 49ers. They were the team with Steve Largent. Period. They only won 10 games twice in their 26 years as a member of the AFC West. The Kingdome was in Seattle, but it might as well have been on the moon.

Now, the Seahawks are a divisional rival. Their most recent meeting was one of the most brutal games of the entire NFL season. Even their coaches can’t stand one another (if you would’ve asked anyone before the season who Jim Harbaugh would get into a postgame handshake-fight with, 100% of the respondents would’ve said “Pete Carroll”).

Scot McCloughan’s exit from the 49ers was mysterious, which in the very public world of professional sports means it was also messy. You’ve all heard the rumors. He soon popped up in Seattle, in a nebulous role that seemed to consist of acquiring former 49ers. Signing Michael Robinson after Robinson was released by the 49ers was a smart move; trading a sixth round pick to the 49ers for Kentwan Balmer was not.

McCloughan’s 49er-centric tendencies are probably overblown. Carroll’s fascination with Harbaugh’s former players is just as intense, as the Seahawks struck gold on both Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin. Also, as the Senior Personnel Executive (talk about a generic title), McCloughan doesn’t have the final say on transactions.

Still, Adam Schefter’s report that Aubrayo Franklin talked to the Seahawks today will just add to the perception that McCloughan’s role is to help Seattle succeed on the strength of players the 49ers let go.

Is this a unique phenomenon, McCloughan’s seeming attraction to players he oversaw in San Francisco? No, Franklin himself followed Mike Nolan from Baltimore to the 49ers back in 2007. However, if Franklin signs with Seattle and rejoins McCloughan (who said “we’re going to beat the hell out of ‘em” before the 49ers traveled to Seattle in December), the rivalry gets a little more juice. The meetings between the two teams should be quite interesting in 2012.