This is the most anticipated 49ers season in nearly a decaded, and expectations are running wild. These expectations of a 49ers division championship are not only local, but national as well. ESPN recently had all 12 of their "experts" pick the 49ers to win their division, one even had the 49ers losing to Baltimore in the Super Bowl. However, it must be said that San Francisco has been the trendy pick for the last three seasons, only to fall short in 2008 and 2009. That said the feeling around this team is much different. It is a long season, and as 49er fans we do seem to jump to conclusions if something goes wrong. It is important to remember that it is a long season and a marathon not a sprint.
Looking over the 49ers early season schedule i am inclined to believe the they have a difficult first 8 games, Matt Barrows suggested such yesterday. Stating that the 49ers would be lucky to start 4-4. I tend to understand where he is coming from. Tough games against New Orleans, Atlanta, Carolina, Philadelphia and a "home" game against Denver in London are really going to test the resolve of this team. However, even if we come out of this stretch at 4-4 the 49ers are likely to go 6-2 in the final 8 to win 10 games. So the question is? Are you going to panic if the 49ers are .500 at the midway point? (Will create a poll for that).
It is important to note that this team has more talent than any other 49ers team since 2002, and talent alone can help them overcome the obstacles of a trecherous 16 game slate. This couple with the fact that both Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati will be starting from day one means that the 49ers offense will continue to improve as the season drags on. I am looking for 18-20 rushes from Gore per game, 6-8 from Westbrook, and 3-5 from Dixon. If the 49ers defense stands up like it did last season this means the 49ers should control the clock, if they can convert on 3rd down. My estimates are the 49ers are going to run the ball between 27 and 33 times per game, leaving Smith with ample opportunity to hit Crabtree, Morgan, Davis, Ginn, Walker, Westbrook, and Gore in the passing game. If the offensive line continues to improve the 49ers offense should be in the top half of the NFL, with a top 5 defense it is obvious this spells between 10-12 wins. Motivation, coaching, personnel and passion isn't going to be a problem with this team. If they can avoid the rash of injuries even a 4-4 start will mean 10-11 wins and a playoff birth.
Here is a great link for all 49ers fans (mostly men LOL)