That's what the start of a royal NFL dynasty looks and feels like.
I'm not just talking about the Seattle Seahawks, though everything they did to dent, dominate and deconstruct Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday had dynastic overtones.
I'm talking about the NFC West, about all that it took for the Seahawks to get through that gauntlet, and, yes, about the 49ers, too.
The sure conclusion: The NFC West, the teams' young quarterbacks and these gold-plated defenses are built to rule the NFL for a while.
Maybe for a long while.
Just ask Peyton Manning about trying to deal with the speed and strength of Seattle's defense during this eventual 43-8 Seahawks stomping in East Rutherford, N.J.
After racing through the rest of the league, averaging an NFL-record 37.9 points in the regular season, Manning and the Broncos were blown to bits from the start in this one.
(Of course, the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick did far better in the NFC Championship game two weeks ago, at least until the fourth quarter.)
Or check with Denver's defense, which struggled to stay with or tackle the Seahawks' offensive stalwarts.
(But the 49ers defense -- probably the second-best in the NFL -- went toe-to-toe with Seattle in three monster matchups this season.)
It's too facile to say that the NFC Championship game was the real Super Bowl, because you never know how the matchups will play out.
Denver was an ideal opponent for Seattle because the Seahawks' incredible pass defense had everything necessary to erase Manning.
Plus, the 49ers lost superstar linebacker NaVorro Bowman and key offensive lineman Mike Iupati two weeks ago, and linebacker Patrick Willis and Frank Gore suffered lesser injuries.
It's hard to know how the 49ers could have patched that together in the Super Bowl, if they had hypothetically gotten there.
But still ...
Seattle survived the NFC West Challenge because it deserved to, and the team that won this division was by far the best in the universe.
Win the NFC West, conquer the NFL.
The 49ers had their chance to get a jump on the dynastic talk in last season's Super Bowl but lost to Baltimore in the final seconds.
Kaepernick was probably a little too raw and the 49ers defense wasn't quite running on all cylinders at the time.
Jump forward a year, and the 49ers were probably better this season than they were last season ... but so was Seattle.
The 49ers might be even better next season -- and you know what? So might Seattle, which is bursting with young stars.
And both teams keep getting better partly because they have each other to deal with and plot against.
Iron sharpens iron, as 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has said, and the smartest, strongest teams force their rivals to get even stronger and smarter.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the division, Arizona won 10 games (and beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in December) and missed the playoffs, despite fielding one of the better defenses in the league.
And St. Louis started pulling it together later in the season, has a bunch of premium draft picks coming and probably won't be a pushover itself in 2014.
So, this all definitely reminds me of another time and another set of title-worthy teams in a single division ...
From Super Bowl XVII (Washington over Miami at the end of the 1982 season) to Super Bowl XXX (Dallas over Pittsburgh at the end of the 1995 season), an NFC East team made it to nine of the 14 Super Bowls.
And won eight.
The NFC East won 57 percent of the Super Bowls in that period -- three by Dallas, three by Washington, and two by the New York Giants.
That was not a free-and-easy time to win titles, either -- it came while the 49ers were winning four of their own Super Bowl championships.
But back then, the NFC East was run by Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs and then Jimmy Johnson; and Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and maybe Jeff Fisher can be comparable to that.
The NFC West teams' architecture has strong similarities to those NFC East clubs': great general managers putting together physical, ground-oriented offenses and aggressive, talent-stocked defenses.
As this Super Bowl proved again, it's easier to keep a great defense going at top speed deep into the playoffs than it is a great offense.
Denver's offense sure hadn't faced anything comparable to Seattle before Sunday.
Then the Broncos experienced what happens when you play an NFC West team and you're not ready for an NFC West challenge.
This could happen a lot of times, in the biggest games, for several more NFC West-dominated years.
36 SBXX: Bears 46, Patriots 10
35 SBXLVIII: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8
35 SBXXVII: Cowboys 52, Bills 17
32 SBXXII: Redskins 42, Broncos 10
29 SBXVIII: Raiders 38, Redskins 9
27 SBXXXVII: Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21
27 SBXXXV: Ravens 34, Giants 7