San Francisco 49ers: If Seattle hadn't beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game then there's a high probability that they would have defeated the Denver Broncos in last years Super Bowl just as the Seahawks did. The trick was getting home field advantage and while the Niners played the Hawks tough in the Pacific Northwest, the 12th man and home field calls deprived the 49ers of back to back Super Bowl appearances for the first time since the 1988 - 89' seasons.
That was back at Candlestick Park where 49ers games would be played at home up until last season. Now with a brand new stadium in nearby Santa Clara, the team calls their new home Levi's Stadium. Geez these endorsements are ridiculous. You can't make excuses though because San Fran had their chance during the regular season and Seattle certainly proved to be worthy champions.
The offense is stacked with talent and options despite the recent loss of Kendall Hunter to a pre-season tear of the ACL. While #32 will be missed out of the backfield, the 49ers are gaining a free player that had 1st round potential before he suffered his own knee injury in college with RB Marcus Lattimore. The Niners also drafted one of the top RB's in the draft with Carlos Hyde and have instant impact on the field as LaMichael James continues to mature and get the football more and more.
The 49ers can beat you with the run given that group of tailbacks led by veteran Frank Gore and of course Colin Kaepernick's ability to take off for a 70 yard touchdown trot with a kiss on the bicep to follow. Kap has to work on his touch passes this summer in preparation for the 2014 season because with guys like Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and others, he better make sure he doesn't miss on those long bombs when his receivers are wide open.
We expect San Francisco to be a top 5 defense again but the cornerback situation isn't pleasant to say the least and they will need their newcomers to play big in order to replace Tarrell Brown and Carlos Rogers. But if the Niners stick to the plan on defense and just rush 4 guys as Aldon Smith appears to be back, healthy and ready to go then they should be able to take care of business with Patrick Willis running the show. As for Aldon Smith, we'll see if he has to wait to go when he meets with Roger Goodell in the near future to decide if further discipline in the form of a suspension is necessary.
The linebacker I haven't mentioned yet is one who is considered to be the best on the team even over Willis. NaVorro Bowman is going to miss about 8 games during the regular season. The 49ers pride themselves on depth and having the next guy ready to go. Luckily San Fran is in that situation and Michael Wilhoite appears to be the front runner to stand next to Patrick Willis in the middle of that amoeba 3-4 defense. While this defense is expected to be a top 5 overall corps I just don't see it given the injuries, loss of personal and their replacements. I'm guessing about 11 wins because the offense will be the squad bailing out the defense this year. Kaepernick has too many weapons and is so talented himself that points will be scored and can/will be put up in a hurry if needed.