The 49ers are a week into offseason training activities, which means we can continue to overreact to whatever has been going on in helmets and shorts. Even if there are overreactions to these practices, expectations will remain incredibly high heading into the 2012 season. The hype train is indeed in overdrive.
Matt Maiocco made his Super Bowl prediction yesterday, and even though it is wildly early to be throwing around those kind of predictions, they are more likely to become the norm in the media and in general discussion. Following this past Super Bowl, the 49ers opened at 20/1 before dropping to 18/1 to win Super Bowl XLVII. At that point, the 49ers Super Bowl odds trailed Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Baltimore, the Giants, San Diego and the Jets.
The odds have since been updated at Bovada, and the 49ers' odds currently sit at 10/1. They trail only the Packers and Patriots. The most notable change has the Broncos climbing from 50/1 to 12/1.
So yes, expectations are going to be high. In the next couple months, NFL preview magazines will be hitting newsstands. While many will point to the Packers and Patriots as their Super Bowl pick, the 49ers will likely show up as a Super Bowl pick here and there. When main stream folks like ESPN, CBS and SI start rolling out their Super Bowl picks, the 49ers will likely find their way into some of the picks.
The 49ers went into 2007 and 2009 with heightened expectations (even 2010 to a lesser extent). The prior seasons they had gone 7-9, but seemed to have positive momentum. They opened 2007 and 2009 with 2-0 marks before self-destructing thanks to a combination of reasons.
Entering 2012 will be just a little bit different, of course. The 49ers are coming off a 13-3 season in which they put together dominant efforts on defense and special teams. They return those two units, while adding much-needed help to an inconsistent offense. There are question marks, but they are not quite the problems of years past.
Whereas expectations in '07 and '09 were built more just on some modest momentum and some belief that they just had to turn things around, the 2012 49ers will have expectations based on actual production. It could still result in an ugly stomach punch given how some quality teams have come crashing down from high expectations, but I feel a little more comfortable with these kinds of expectations. Now we'll just have to wait and see how the team responds to the pressure of being a favorite.