NFL San Francisco 49ers

5 Reasons Why San Francisco 49ers Will Win Super Bowl XLVIII

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5 Reasons Why The San Francisco 49ers Can Win Super Bowl XLVIII

Derick E. Hingle - USA TODAY Sports

The long journey that is the NFL regular season is complete. 32 teams started in September with dreams and designs on playing in Super Bowl XLVIII, and 12 of those squads are still alive. Coaches and players like to say that they’re starting the “second season” 0-0, and that what they did for the last four months means nothing compared to what happens in the next four weeks.

The San Francisco 49ers understand that feeling better than anybody. Last year’s NFC champions came into the 2013 season as one of the favorites to make another run to the Super Bowl, and now they have that chance. Even though their 12-4 record has them in the Wild Card slot this weekend, that’s the same place the Baltimore Ravens, who defeated the Niners in last year’s title game, started. Could San Francisco be this year’s team of destiny?

Everybody knows the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC likely goes through the Seattle Seahawks, but I believe that the 49ers will not only be back in the championship game this year, but they have everything it takes to win it all and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to the Bay Area for the first time since 1994.

Four games stand between the San Francisco 49ers and NFL history, and it all starts this weekend with a game against the Green Bay Packers. The team won’t be looking beyond that, but I certainly will. Read on to see why Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick and company will be back in the big game to finish the job they started last season.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer and NFL contributor for For more, “like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and join him on Google+.

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5) Colin Kaepernick

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Is Kaepernick still the wild card he was last season? Perhaps not. But he’s still played at a high level in 2013. Even though he completed only 58.4% of his passes, he threw for almost 3,200 yards and 21 touchdowns while giving up only eight picks. Add in over 500 rushing yards, however, and he’s still a threat every time the ball is in his hands - in other words, every play. With another year of experience, don’t expect him to bow to the playoff pressure.

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4) Receivers At Full Strength

Brad Mills - USA TODAY Sports

Michael Crabtree, an 1,100-yard, nine touchdown receiver in 2012, made his return in week 13, and appears to be getting back into the flow of the game. Anquan Boldin - one of Baltimore's key pieces in last year's Super Bowl run - and Vernon Davis both had excellent seasons, and now that Kaepernick has the full complement of weapons at his disposal to balance the rushing attack led by Frank Gore, they’re every bit the offensive threat that they were last year.

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3) Nobody Wants To Play Them Right Now

Frank Gore
Kyle Terada - USA TODAY Sports

Is there a hotter, more dangerous team in the NFC than this? The 49ers have won 11 of their last 13 games, and those two losses came by a combined four points. They held the vaunted New Orleans Saints offense to just 23 points at the Superdome, and they're the only team in the NFC playoffs to have defeated Seattle. Wild Card or not, they aren't a favorable matchup for anybody coming into the postseason.

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2) Leadership

Jim Harbaugh
Cary Edmondson - USA TODAY Sports

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh had his team on the verge of winning the Super Bowl last season before finally being defeated by the Baltimore Ravens. He's one of the best coaches in the game today, and you know he'll be motivated to get back to the title game to finish the job they didn't get done a year ago. Make no mistake, Harbaugh will have his players ready to leave everything on the field until they raise the trophy.

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1) Ferocious Defense

Patrick Willis Navorro Bowman
Cary Edmondson - USA TODAY Sports

Defense seems to be the name of the game in the NFC, with the Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Saints, and 49ers all ranking in the top five in total defense in the NFL. The 49ers make their name on defense, and that travels well in the postseason, no matter what the weather may bring. They don't get into a lot of shootouts, and that will prove invaluable, especially if they find themselves facing off against a team like the AFC favorite Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning in early February.