"Teams that feature the run as their foundation generally don’t score as many points. They tend to play closely contested games that are within one score in the fourth quarter. Those kinds of games can be decided by one play. In fact, too often better teams lose to less-talented teams simply because the game is close and that single play becomes magnified. That’s a tough way to play every week. But that’s the profile when you’re a running team built around a great back. Your margin for error as a team is very small, which is exactly why you have to be extremely good in all phases, like the 2011 49ers. That’s very difficult in today’s NFL."
The entire article is pretty interesting, but the above analysis really hits hard on the 49ers' last season. Many of the games last season did come down to one magnified play, generally in our favor. (Eagles, first Giants, and Saints as the more high profile wins and Dallas, Baltimore and the chop block, and the second Giants game as the high profile losses).
Two things come to my mind. The turnover differential and the 4th quarter comebacks....
Despite the odds, I think the turnover differential should be roughly sustainable to at least some extent for this team given the advantageous positions the defense generally puts itself in and the position of safety the offense tries to play from. Though factors like playing better quarterbacks and choosing to pass more often will probably change things quite a bit. But even with such a high turnover differential, we were still within one score in the 4th quarter of a lot of games. More luck on the part of our opponents could really swing games if our offense can't learn to score in the redzone.
Which brings me to the 4th quarter comebacks...why can't they always play like that? These were some of the best games of the year because they were consistently exciting, though always nerve racking. If our schedule were easier, I wouldn't expect any this year. But we play some offensive powerhouses so some should be necessary. The problem with 4th quarter comebacks is that I don't think they are sustainable. Maintaining the turn over differential is about safe offense and smart defense. 4th quarter comebacks are risk, reward, and luck. If the 49ers play like they did in 2012 and continue to score field goals instead of touchdowns, we will have a lot of close 4th quarter games and we will probably lose a fair amount to the strong offensive teams on our schedule who get lucky.
On the bright side, the new offensive additions seem promising. If we can keep David Akers out of the pro bowl by keeping him off the field this team should win the Super Bowl.