It's hard to believe in the San Francisco 49ers too much when I do not really believe in Colin Kaepernick as an elite kind of quarterback. I think he is dynamic for sure and has played at an elite level at times, but he has lacked consistency. Living close to the Bay Area, I get to see a lot of their games and though I think they are an elite team, I put them around fifth behind two NFC powerhouses that have legitimate elite quarterbacks in the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.
3. San Francisco 49ers (2013 Record: 12-4)
Last season, I expected the 49ers to take control of their division and for the Seattle Seahawks to fade from their one year of success. Obviously, I was dead wrong and it was the Seahawks who stood up and took control of their division. I cannot bash too much, because the 49ers did win twelve games and took the Seahawks down the wire for the NFC Championship. This team will continue to be elite, but its going to be a tough road against the stacked NFC teams.
Key Losses: Tarell Brown, Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, Anthony Dixon, Jonathan Goodwin, Mario Manningham, Colt McCoy
Key Acquisitions: Antoine Bethea, Chris Cook, Perrish Cox
After drafting a dozen players in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 49ers also tried to shore up their defensive backfield through free agency. I can't imagine all twelve draft picks make this talented team, so there could be some good finds on cut down from the Santa Clara area. The success of their season could come down to how well their offense performs.
The road to twelve wins in 2014 is going to be rougher this time around as the 49ers schedule features road games against their division, along with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints. It gets a little easier at home, but who knows how things will go against dangerous teams like the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and, of course, their division rivals.
Projected Record: 12-4
Kyle: Between Colin Kaepernick off-field stories and rumors surrounding instability at head coach, the 49ers have built-in excuses if they drop a step in 2014. So far, though, it seems like they’re surviving a turbulent offseason well.
Jon: Pro Bowlers at RB, TE, WR, and all across the defense with an up-and-coming young QB? This team is dangerous.
Mike: Talent upon talent with this team. They have come up short the past couple of seasons but I expect San Francisco to be there once again come January and February.
Jacob: The 49ers are serious Super Bowl contenders yet again in 2014, with as fearsome of a defense as anyone, and an offense which will benefit from a full season out of Kaep’s favorite target, Michael Crabtree. 11-13 wins.
Topher: Their defense is among the league’s best and they have a strong offensive line and run game. My issues lie with a very inconsistent quarterback in Colin Kaep. He could have a bounce back year but after his struggles last season despite a lot of talent around him, makes me nervous. Obviously they are still a very good team, this is just nitpicking.
Laurie: I ranked them No. 2 before Colin Kaepernick signed his new contract (whaaat?) Given that he’s got a fat new paycheck, he’ll most certainly not be any good this year. But if he lives up to that salary, the 49ers have a lot of weapons - and a lot of vengeance - to fire up.
Pete: I was really high on Colin Kaepernick entering last season. He didn’t really disappoint, but he didn’t really impress me either. I’m a bit more grounded when it comes to him this year, but man, that defense is lights out, even without Aldon Smith! They’ll make it deep into the playoffs and possibly back to the Super Bowl. My only real concern is that their front office seems to be divided. Can a tree produce good fruit if its roots are decaying? Because that’s the uphill battle that San Fran seems to have staring them in the face.