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San Francisco 49ers Are The Dark-Horse Team To Win The Superbowl Next Season

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory, going 13-3 and losing to New York Giants by a field goal in the NFC Conference Championship.

So can coach Jim Harbaugh and the Alex Smith lead 49ers make the next step to reach the Superbowl next season?

The answer to that question is yes. The 49ers have what it takes to take that next step and reach the Superbowl for the first time since 1994 when they were led by Steve Young.

First lets start in the defensive side of the 49ers. The 49ers return almost he exact same defensive unit as last season that ranked 3rd overall in the league and 1st against the run, allowing points on average of only 77.2 yards per game. They are anchored in the middle by not only one oft he most feared middle linebackers in the league, but arguably the most feared defensive player regardless of position in Patrick Willis.

Alex Smith in my opinion is the one who will either bring the 49ers to the promise land or sink them after week six. Alex Smith has come a long way since his days as a #1 overall pick in 2005. Under Harbaugh, Smith put up his best statistical number sin his seven year career and even showed he had some clutch performances in him (youtube link). Next year is the year that Alex Smith will finally break out, he has one year under his belt in the Harbaugh system and will only flourish with another season with his young offensive line and one of the most talented receiving cores at his disposal. Look for his career high of 18 touchdown passes to significantly increase next season.

The running backs of the 49ers is highly underrated. Though to many Frank Gore is on the decline of his career and think his best years are behind him, but I think for the man who runs harder than anyone in the league will play with an even bigger chip on his shoulder this season. Brandon Jacobs will come in and terrorize defenders on the goal line and make 4th down conversions that much more easier with letting him run it up the gut, or diversions with having such an option in your backfield. The drafting of Oregon’s LaMichael James could turn out to be a steal. If given the opportunity James will surprise a lot of people next season. His on-field and off-field antics have overshadowed his career at Oregon, but that is beside the fact when it comes to his skill when the ball is in his hands.

The offensive line could be the one problem the 49ers must face, but nearing the end of the season and into the playoffs the young tackle Anthony Davis, seemed comfortable with his role, and hopefully his play towards the later part of the season carries over into this season rather than the first half he had this year.  Joe Staley has emerged into a great tackle who protects Smith;s blind side and if he continues to grow next season, could bring the 49ers added success. Mike Iupati is an outstanding guard and has been ever since he stepped in the league. He is one of the better guards in the NFL has a great eye for the run game and has started 32 of 32 games in his career showing great durability for such a demanding position. Though their center in Joanthan Goodwin is average and they need to find someone to upgrade at the guard position.

The 49ers biggest weakness could be their offensive line depending on whether or not they come to play. If they are an inconsistent bunch then Alex Smith could be getting sacked more often then not. But if it is the line that showed up in the end of the season, then we have a good quarterback in Alex Smith who will have time to throw to the many talented receiving crop.

Lastly, I will save the best for last and that is the newly revamped 49ers receiving core that headlines Mario Manningham, AJ Jenkins, Ted Ginn Jr., Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and the newly acquired Randy Moss make up one of the most dynamic and scariest receivers in the NFL. Manningham is going to bring a different value to this team and will give them possessions and short down catches. The rookie Jenkins will still have a lot of work to do to crack this talented crop but nonetheless will get his catches. Ginn Jr., will most likely be used as a special teams magician with his spectacular punt and kick-off returns. Michael Crabtree is one of the games most talented young receivers and this is his year to finally break though to shut up all his critics. Veron Davis will continue to be the most athletic tight end in the NFL and will benefit most with a drastic improvement to the receiving core.

Randy Moss deserves his own paragraph in itself because Moss simply can be the reason why the 49ers are to win a Superbowl next season. When Moss’ mind is in it and he wants to play he is arguably the best receiver in the game. He still holds the record for most receiving touchdowns in a season with 23, he is the most dynamic deep threat receiver in the game and will improve the 49ers 30th ranked red zone attack from last season. Thus far in training camp his head has been right and he is even mentoring the younger receivers like Crabtree and Jenkins. But then again it is Randy Moss we are talking about. One flick of the switch and its a completely different player. If he is able to keep the mindset going that he has now and build a great relationship with Alex Smith the 49ers will be one of the most dangerous offences in the NFL. Coach Jim Harbaugh even stated that Randy Moss is his best receiver right now which is great for the 49ers and terrible for opposing teams.

In conclusion, the 49ers have all the pieces in place, they have a genius coach who puts his players in the position that they need to be in to succeed. They are in a weaker conference and should have no troubles winning the division. With the few but key additions they made to the roster, the 49ers could be serious Superbowl contenders and are my 2012-13 NFL Darkhorse to take the Superbowl contingent on which  Randy Moss shows up.

Written By: Matt Ravida

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