What’s the story?
The 49ers were good in the first half of 2012. Then starting quarterback Alex Smith sat out for several weeks with a concussion, and the wonder that is current starting QB Colin Kaepernick hit the field with gusto, leading to an appearance in Super Bowl 47. Kaepernick would be the first to tell you not to count your chickens before they hatch – he still hasn’t even played a full season in the NFL yet – but with 9 Pro Bowlers on the roster and no slowing down in sight, it’s hard to imagine the Niners having anything but another competitive season.
Leader and commander:
Jim Harbaugh. He does things like this.
New kid on the block:
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was acquired by the Niners in a fast and strange trade from the Ravens, and who didn’t deserve to be shipped out on a midnight trade to San Francisco. Boldin is an all-around class act as well as being a big-play making machine. He will undoubtedly make a huge impact in the passing game for San Francisco this year, especially with Michael Crabtree being out with a torn achilles.
Last year was…
…the year of (slightly) unexpected surprises: the breakout season of Colin Kaepernick and a trip to the Harbowl, Super Bowl 47. It’s not the same level of surprise if, say, the Jaguars shocked the world and made a Super Bowl run – the Niners were slated to be pretty good at the start of the season – but I don’t know that anyone saw Kaepernick and a near-win at Super Bowl 47 coming.
If the Niners can overcome the competition within their own division, they have a good chance to land right back where they ended last season, hopefully this time with a different outcome. (I would contest that the Packers present a challenge for the Niners to win the NFC title…but we all know how that transpired last season.) The bevy of talent and momentum in San Fran is good enough for the 2nd spot in ESPN’s preseason power rankings.