What are the chances of a 49ers Super Bowl return?
One of the toughest realizations after the San Francisco 49ers lost Super Bowl XLVII was they may never get back there again. There will be some homers who will jump to contradict that statement, but one of the biggest advantages the 49ers had in terms of coming back to prominence in the NFL was surprise. No one expected Harbaugh to take Alex Smith to the NFC Championship game in 2011. By the same token, no one expected Colin Kaepernick to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012. The unusual circumstances of those scenarios created a sense of mystery to defensive coordinators around the league who didn’t have their tendencies to prepare against them.
However, the Baltimore Ravens had enough tape on Kaepernick’s tendencies to slow him down, and you can bet the rest of the NFL will take those same strategies in 2013. We would all like to believe Kaepernick will get better and continue to dominate the NFL, but there’s no guarantee of that. Especially since Kaepernick was beat by rival teams in the division such as the Seahawks and Rams during his surprise explosion into the NFL. Neither is the guarantee that the 49ers defense will remain as strong as ever. You hate to say the wheels are coming off the defense, but Justin Smith’s age and his lack of presence when he was injured in 2012 was noticeable.
Counting on a rookie to replace Smith does not bode well for Aldon Smith’s future as well, because Smith depended on Justin Smith to provide lanes to get the passer. There is no guarantee that Cornellius Carradine won’t be a bust or have the impact Justin Smith had. You can say that about most of the rookies the 49ers are bringing in to replace key veterans creates a lot of unknowns. Maybe that’s a good thing to keep the 49ers future a mystery, but the meteorite rise under Jim Harbaugh in two seasons is almost too good to be true. You almost want to pinch yourself to see everything revert back to the perpetual losses after Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens left.
Maybe the fairy tale of the 49ers will continue in 2013, but how sustainable this success under Jim Harbaugh is, will be tested. Remember that even the New York Jets went to the AFC Championship game back to back until they fell back into the gutter in the AFC East. The 49ers will also not have history behind them, because there has only been two teams that went to the Super Bowl and lost, that went back the next year to win it all in the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins in the seventies. Maybe the 49ers under Harbaugh have built a sustainable dynasty that will go back to football’s biggest stage once again. However, for that event to happen again will be the biggest challenge for any team in NFL history to ever have to overcome.
James Cobern is a NFC West Division Leader for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com or follow him on Twitter @Jmcobern1