The San Francisco 49ers and their fans expect the team to dominate the NFL this year on the way to another Super Bowl appearance — hopefully one that will result in a victory. Before they even get to the playoffs, however, they have to obtain a playoff berth. The NFC West division will be the most competitive division in the 2013 regular season.
The St. Louis Rams had the best divisional record last year and will be using three running backs to help replace Steven Jackson. The Arizona Cardinals have upgraded with veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and still have Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
As well, the Seattle Seahawks now have the same lofty expectations as the 49ers after winning a playoff game. Other notable opponents include the Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.
Since their Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Ravens in February, the 49ers have been salivating for a chance to return to the NFL’s biggest stage.
During the offseason, the 49ers made several moves to increase their chances of winning a championship. Quarterback Alex Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end Delanie Walker signed a free agent deal with the Tennessee Titans, safety Dashon Goldson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wide receiver Randy Moss was not re-signed after only one season in San Francisco.
Just as the 49ers lost players, they also gained some as well. The two most noteworthy additions are veterans Nnamdi Asomugha at cornerback and Anquan Boldin at wide receiver. The secondary was a liability for the Niners during the Super Bowl because Boldin himself got six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
The good news for 49er fans is that on paper, they are a Super Bowl favorite. The bad news is that bodies having been dropping like flies during the offseason, especially during training camp. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles and cornerback Chris Culliver more recently tore his ACL and will be out for the season.
With all that said, the 49ers will end the regular season with 11 wins and five losses, as well as the divisional crown. If the injuries continue to mount for the team, fans should expect a 10-6 season with San Fran barely making the playoffs, whether as division champs or as a wildcard.