The San Francisco 49ers head into the 2013 season in a position of Super Bowl runner up. It sucks, but that's the way it is. And of course, a story that shows up every so often is how the Super Bowl runner up struggles in that following season. I haven't seen a lot of it this offseason, but it has been mentioned here and there over the past few months.
I wanted to look a little more into this, and our man Danny Tuccitto sent along a link that did most of the work for me. Back in 2010, the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective broke down the 43 Super Bowl winners and losers, looking at their records the following season, as well as whether or not they made the playoffs.
Based on the first 43 Super Bowls, winners were back in the playoffs 70% of the time, while losers were there 65% of the time. Winners had the same or better record 21% of the time, while losers had the same or better record 33% of the time. The last four Super Bowl losers returned to the playoffs the following year. We're not exactly talking huge sample size with that last number, but I'll enjoy it nonetheless.
As for the 49ers in 2013? This is a team of veterans with strong leadership. They generally seem to take a relatively even keel when it comes to winning and losing. They are still rebounding from end of season injuries, but with four weeks until training camp, the team should be back to full health in most cases.
The key in my mind will be how they are looking down the stretch in December. When we get late in the season, everybody is getting a little more tired. For the 49ers (and Ravens), we will be talking about potentially extended seasons for at least the third straight year. Both teams went to their respective conference title game in 2011, and then met in the Super Bowl last year. It will be interesting to see where they are from a health perspective late in the season. That could be the big difference-maker for both teams.