After an impressive run to the Super Bowl last season, the San Francisco 49ers have big expectations for 2013. With one of the most talented rosters combined with one of the best coaching staffs in the NFL, anything is possible for this team.
Coach Jim Harbaugh immediately turned San Francisco around when he arrived in 2011. After an eight-year-playoff drought, the 2011 NFL Coach of the Year has led the 49ers to two-straight appearances. Under Harbaugh, the team has amassed records of 24-7-1 in the regular season and 3-2 in the postseason.
There are not many weaknesses on this team, but one issue that needed to be addressed was the secondary. During their playoff run in 2012, the defense allowed an average of 313 passing yards per game, with a total of eight TDs and two INTs in three contests. San Francisco tackled this issue hard with the additions of CB Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Eric Wright, S Craig Dahl and by drafting S Eric Reid in the first round.
The San Francisco defense was still one of the best last year, ranking second in points allowed and third in total defense. With upgrades in the secondary, a stellar defensive line and a linebacker crew that is second-to-none, the Niners could have the best defense in the league.
On offense, watching what QB Colin Kaepernick can do in his second season as a starter is going to be very exciting. Including the playoffs, Kaepernick was very impressive in the 10 games he started last season. If he kept pace with the stats from those games over an entire season, he would have compiled 4,653 total yards, 30 total TDs, with eight INTs.
The injuries to Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham will definitely hurt, but Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin still give the offense a couple of decent receiving options. San Francisco has one of the top offensive lines in the league, and the fourth best rushing offense from last season should be just as solid this year.
The addition of QB Colt McCoy was a great and underrated offseason pickup. The insurance he will provide will be valuable after the departure of Alex Smith. His performance with the Cleveland Browns was mediocre, but with the Niners’ offensive line and the guidance of Harbaugh, he is in a much better position to succeed in San Francisco. This team should still be competitive even if Kaepernick goes down.
I expect the 49ers to be one of the best in the league with a record of 13-3. They play seven playoff teams from last season, but only two of those games are on the road. If this team doesn’t suffer too many key injuries, I see them as favorites for a return trip to the Super Bowl.