The San Francisco 49ers came up just a few yards short of a Super Bowl title last season. John won the battle of the Harbaugh brothers, and Jim and the rest of the 49ers team was left to wonder what if they hadn’t dug themselves such a big hole in the big game.
San Francisco battled all the way to the end in Super Bowl XLVI, and they seemed to get a massive boost from the shocking power outage. It seemed as if there were a couple more minutes in the game the 49ers would have been able to wrestle the lead away from the Ravens. As it was, though, the Ravens defense came up with a big stop, and time ran out.
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The 49ers franchise is clearly on the way up, but it’s definitely tough to see the positives right after losing a heart breaker in the Super Bowl as this team did just a few short months ago. San Francisco has a very similar group of core players back for another run at a title, but there are a few changes here and there.
Have the 49ers done enough to take that last step and win it all in the 2014 Super Bowl? Here’s a look at the 2013 San Francisco 49ers with predictions and betting odds.
The San Francisco 49ers have officially handed the keys over to Colin Kaepernick at the quarterback spot. Alex Smith started last year as the quarterback, but when Kaepernick took over it seems he added that little bit extra that the offense was lacking. Kaepernick still has a lot to learn, but his athleticism and playmaking ability makes him an extremely tough guy to defend. Kaepernick will need to improve his decision-making, and he’ll need to be slightly more accurate in the passing game. Still, he has one of the highest upsides of any quarterback in the NFL.
San Francisco is stacked at the running back spot. Frank Gore is still the main man here, and he is one of best backs in the NFC. Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James may be the best tandem of backups in the league, and those guys are going to get plenty of shots to touch the football this year as well. Watch out for James to have a big season as a kick returner with Ted Ginn Jr. gone. The offensive line was exceptional last year, and I see no reason to expect anything but the same this season.
If there is a question mark with the 49ers on offense, it is definitely at the wide receiver spot. Michael Crabtree’s injury hurts this team’s chances. Crabtree had developed into their clear No. 1 receiver on the outside. Anquan Boldin was brought in over the offseason, but you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. A.J. Jenkins is a guy the team is counting on to step up, but he has a lot to prove. Fortunately for the 49ers, they do have a beast at tight end in Vernon Davis. He should be Kaepernick’s top target this season.
Over the past few years, it has been the 49ers defense that has been the strength of this team. While they are still very good, this unit did allow 31 points to the Packers and then 34 points in the Super Bowl against the Ravens during last year’s playoffs. There are some question marks surrounding this unit as we start the 2013 season.
Dashon Goldson left the team, and there is now a big void at the free safety position. The 49ers had to scramble and trade up to draft Eric Reid because they were very worried about their lack of depth at this position. Reid will likely be the team’s starter as a rookie, and he might have to do some learning while on the job. Nnamdi Asomugha was a good signing to bolster the team’s depth at the cornerback position.
What makes this defense special? It is their amazing group of linebackers. Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, and NaVorro Bowman form what is probably the best group of linebackers in the league. The amount of speed in this group is downright scary for opposing offenses. Every one of these starters spends a lot of time in the backfield making big plays. Expect another big year out of this unit.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Schedule Analysis
The 49ers are going to have to be ready to go at the beginning of the season this year. They host the Packers in Week 1. In Week 2 they travel to face the Seattle Seahawks in what could be a very important game. Though the schedule starts out tough, the 49ers don’t have a particularly rough schedule this year, especially considering they won the NFC West last season.
San Francisco didn’t draw many marquee names outside the conference. Back-to-back games against the Titans and Jaguars in the middle of the season show that the 49ers got a favorable draw when it comes to AFC opponents this year.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Futures Odds
The San Francisco 49ers are a -120 favorite to win the NFC West, according to odds from Bovada. JustBet lists the 49ers at +300 to win the NFC Conference. What about their odds to win the Super Bowl? JustBet lists the 49ers as the overall favorite to win the Super Bowl at +500.
BetOnline has posted the San Francisco 49ers season win total at 11.5 wins. The “under” is currently a -165 favorite.
2013 San Francisco 49ers Predictions
San Francisco has a lot going for them, but I’m not sure this team should be the Super Bowl favorites heading into 2013. They look vulnerable against the pass, and I’m not sure they’ll have enough balance on offense to keep opposing defenses from loading up the box.
There’s little doubt that this team is going to win a lot of games in the regular season, but I’m not sure they can replicate last year’s success in the playoffs. This team has several shortcomings that are likely to show up in key situations. I see the rest of the NFC getting better while the 49ers appear to be taking a small step back this season.
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