The 2 Point Conversion

The Complete NFL Scoop

San Fran’s Record May Be Misleading


Everybody expects the Saints and Cowboys to make the playoffs again, but who will be new to the playoff picture? In order, my guesses would be San Francisco, Atlanta, and Houston. San Francisco is the only one I’m very confident about, however. They are by default the best team in the division, for one. St. Louis still doesn’t have nearly enough pieces in place to make a run at the playoffs in 2010. Arizona simply lost too many valuable components (Warner, Boldin, Dansby, Rolle) and reports out of Cardinals camp regarding Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson are not good at all. At this point, Seattle appears to be the most serious threat to San Francisco, but even they have nothing to write home about apart from their linebacking corps.

San Francisco has an established runner, a bolstered offensive line, and two budding superstars in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. If Alex Smith can step up, this 49ers offense could be a force to be reckoned with. There are very few offenses with both potent passing and dominant run games. Minnesota, Atlanta, Dallas, and maybe Baltimore come to mind. All of those teams have a chance to do real damage in the playoffs. So does San Fran. When it comes to defense, this is a disciplined unit that ranked 4th in scoring last season. They have a phenomenal line with incredible power generated by Isaac Sopoaga and Aubrayo Franklin. They have veteran Justin Smith and promising youngsters Kentwan Balmer and Ricky Jean Francois. Behind them is all-pro Patrick Willis. Despite not having a top pass rusher, the 49ers can get to the quarterback by using a rotation of Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks, and Travis LaBoy. Their secondary is average at best, but it should not be too big of a liability.

Nobody compares to the 49ers in the NFC West, and I expect them to win at least 5 division games. They also get to play Kansas City, Denver, Oakland, Tampa, and Carolina. I see only two games (@ Chargers, @ Packers) where they are clearly overmatched. Therefore, if the team can stay relatively healthy, it’s entirely possible that they could win 13 games. I am almost sure they will win at least 10, and I would guess that 11 or 12 is the most realistic number. Don’t be surprised if the 49ers got a first round bye in the playoffs.

Can they win the Super Bowl? No. Alex Smith can win 11 games in a weak division, but he won’t be able to go through Atlanta, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Diego in consecutive weeks. The team will only be tested five or six times over the course of the season, should easily make the playoffs, but are not built to win in January. If Tom Brady cannot agree to an extension with New England, for example, and is attracted to San Francisco, look out. Brady to Crabtree and Davis. Gore in the backfield. Then, San Fran can feel real optimism.

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May 29, 2010 - Posted by | Opinion

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