The NFC West arms race could get very interesting this year.

Last month, it was reported that the Seahawks will re-sign defensive end Michael Bennett. They haven’t. As of tomorrow, he officially can negotiate with other teams.

The negotiations already are occurring, discreetly and hypothetically. Some believe that the 49ers will make a run at Bennett, which would in one fell swoop help the Niners and hurt their chief rivals for supremacy in the division, the conference, and the league.

It’s entirely possible that the 49ers are feigning interest in order to force the Seahawks to pay Bennett more than the Seahawks want to pay him. Ultimately, every extra dollar paid to Bennett is one less dollar that would be available for someone else.

Then again, Bennett had two sacks in three games last year against San Francisco. While not an ideal fit as an outside linebacker or a defensive end in San Fran’s 3-4 defense, he could play inside and outside and wherever they line him up. With the 6-4, 285-pound Justin Smith getting close to the end of the road, the 6-4, 274-pound Bennett could possibly become the eventual replacement — at least on passing downs.