The San Francisco 49ers prepare to kick off their 2013 season on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, with Super Bowl dreams dancing in our heads. The offseason has plenty of discussion about Colin Kaepernick, the read option, the defensive additions, and so forth. However, as the season approaches one topic that has gotten its fair share of press is the so-called curse of Super Bowl losers.
Ray Ratto was the latest to join the discussion. He generally writes from the stance of a curmudgeon, but he pointed to pertinent facts in discussing the potential decline for the 49ers. The early 90s Bills are the last Super Bowl loser to get back to the Super Bowl winner. Additionally, the 1972 Dolphins are the only team to lose a Super Bowl and come back and win it the next year (going undefeated in the process).
As we look ahead to the coming season, it is easy to see some things going against the 49ers, but also some things in their favor. For example, on the one hand they do face a very difficult schedule. They open against the Packers, Seahawks and Colts. While two of those three are at home, none are gimmes.
The 49ers have only two 10 a.m. PT starts this season. On the other hand, they get the most travel miles thanks to their trip to London. The schedule is broken up fairly well with limited road trips, but those miles will add up.
The reason I do not think the 49ers will be struck down by any Super Bowl loser's curse is the fact that this team has the veteran guidance that should hopefully keep them focused on the task at hand. I imagine I am not the first football fan to think his team has the necessary focus. It is probably very cliched at this point.
Nonetheless, we hear frequently about how focused the players are in practice. They have fun in the locker room, but it sounds like they are focused when it comes time to work.
More importantly than any nebulous cliched ideal, there is the basic notion that the 49ers addressed the primary weakness that cost them in the Super Bowl. The 49ers have loaded up on defensive depth. The team switched out Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois with Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey. They have brought in Corey Lemonier to provide depth behind Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. Tank Carradine could be a midseason addition. Nnamdi Asomugha is in town and we are all hoping he has shades of Oakland Nnamdi.
The wide receiver position remains a question mark given the loss of Michael Crabtree, and the additions that have plenty of question marks next to their names. Some or all of these guys could work out this season, but outside of Anquan Boldin, we really have no idea what to reasonably expect. We have our hopes for each wide receiver, but I don't think anybody can offer a projection that is more than just mildly educated guess work.
Of course, while that makes it a scary proposition, it also is part of the basis for our optimism for the wide receivers, and for the team as a whole. There is an adrenaline rush in not knowing what to expect. We think this team can win the Super Bowl, we hope they can avoid any Super Bowl curse, but at the end of the day, each Super Bowl loser was independent of every other Super Bowl loser. This year's 49ers team is completely different from last year's Patriots team, the 2011 Pittsburg Steelers, the 2010 Indianapolis Colts, and every other Super Bowl loser in recent memory.
Until this season is done, consider me unwilling to accept any notion of a Super Bowl curse. I don't know whether or not the 49ers will be playing early next February, but it's going to be a whole lot of fun finding out. The front office did a strong job this offseason in terms of adding talent. This Sunday, all that work comes to a head as the 49ers begin their march to the Meadowlands and Super Bowl XLVIII!
- Week 1 NFL picks
- 49ers salary cap space heading into 2013
- Patrick Willis injury update - he should be good to go
- Jim Harbaugh talks about "tough talk" concerning QB hits
- A look at the 49ers depth chart