49ers Facing High Expectations After Back-To-Back NFC Championship Game Appearances
The San Francisco 49ers have consecutive NFC Championship game appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl that came within one score of achieving the ultimate goal in their first two online sports betting seasons under head coach Jim Harbaugh. 49ers’ fans are hoping they don’t run out of gas. San Francisco is among the favorites to win the NFC and reach the Super Bowl for the second-straight year, but ultimately this season will be judged based on whether this team can finally deliver on the biggest stage and capture that elusive Super bowl ring.
The 49ers’ offense will have a bit of a different look this sports betting season as Colin Kaepernick is set to play his first full season as the undisputed starter. Kaepernick took over halfway through last year and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl, presenting opponents with a much different skill set to defend than his predecessor Alex Smith. Frank Gore remains one of the better No. 1 running backs in the league, but will have plenty of help LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon in a loaded 49ers’ backfield. The offensive line is once again expected to be a strength, and will be able to both protect Kaepernick and open up the running lanes. San Francisco lost Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree will miss time, but the 49ers signed Anquan Boldin in the offseason, and tight end Vernon Davis has raved about the chemistry he and Kaepernick have developed over the summer.
Anchored by one of the best linebacker cores in the NFL, the San Francisco 3-4 will have no problem getting after opposing quarterbacks again this coming season. Aldon Smith cooled off after a monster start to last year but still finished with 19.5 sacks, while Ahmad Brooks held it down on the other side with 6.5 of his own. Patrick Willis is a perennial Pro Bowl player in the middle that can do a bit of everything, and will have the luxury of playing next to NaVorro Bowman. Defensive end Justin Smith anchors a very underrated three-man front with third-year nose tackle Ian Williams set to take over, while rookie safety Eric Reid challenges CJ Spillman for the vacant starting safety job next to Donte Whitner. The cornerback spots are in good shape with Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, so much so that Nnamdi Asomugha has been relegated to the fourth spot on the depth chart and could end up being cut.
The 49ers’ special teams are in good shape with Phil Dawson slotted in as the starting kicker and Andy Lee set to start at punter. James is expected to handle the bulk of the kick and punt return duties in 2013-14, with Kyle Williams also in the mix for snaps.
San Francisco won 11 games a year ago with a tie against the St. Louis Rams keeping them from another, and will be looking to at least hit that online sportsbook total again in 2013-14. Kaepernick will need to really step up in the offense and account for defenses scheming against him, but the weapons are there for him to succeed and the defense is poised for another big year, so there isn’t much reason to doubt the 49ers in the NFC West.
2013 PROJECTION: 12-4; 1st in NFC West