While I wish we could be talking about the 49ers chances in the upcoming Super Bowl, we're not quite so fortunate. The folks at National Football Post put together a rundown of the 25 Greatest Teams Not To Win The Super Bowl. In crunching the numbers, the list looks at overall record, per-game point differential, turnover margin, blowout victories, strength of schedule and some "extra credit" depending on the circumstances.
The 1992 49ers and this past year's 49ers were both on the list. It is interesting to note that the 1990 49ers that lost to the Giants in the NFC Championship Game did not make the list. I was a little surprised at first, but when you look at things like turnover margin and point differential, it's not entirely shocking.
The 1992 San Francisco 49ers were ranked No. 11. That team finished 14-2 with a 10.4 points per game differential, winning eight games by ten or more points. They earned a first round bye and then defeated the Washington Redskins 20-13. They hosted Dallas in the NFC Championship Game and lost 30-20. Here is NFP's overview of that team:
The 1992 Niners were as dynamic as their dynastic forebears of the 1980s, with Steve Young succeeding Joe Montana at quarterback and George Seifert seamlessly handling the coaching reins after Bill Walsh retired from thepro game in February 1989. Looking at the numbers, the '92 Niners earned strong marks in point differential (10.4), turnover margin (7), blowout wins (8) and overall record against playoff teams (5-1). For good measure, Young and Co. capped the regular season with eight straight victories -- a necessity for holding off the eventual champion Cowboys in the race for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Not that Dallas needed it to capture its first Lombardi trophy in 15 years.
The 2011 49ers were listed at No. 23 ahead of the 2011 New Orleans Saints and the 1978 Dallas Cowboys. Our 49ers finished 13-3 with a 9.4 points per game differential, winning six games by ten points or more. Here is NFP's brief overview of the recently completed season:
If we were to peruse every Sports Illustrated NFL preview from 1966 to the present ... it's possible the 2011 Niners would be the likeliest squad to finish 3-13 than 13-3 in preseason prognostications. But hey, that's why they play the games; and that's why San Francisco deserves major props for realizing its dream season without the benefit of mini-camp practices ... or some valuable winter/spring time to adjust to new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Yes, we could lament the giant step forward for QB Alex Smith (3,144 yards passing, 19 total TDs) or bankable production from RB Frank Gore (1,325 total yards, 8 TDs); but the story of the 2011 49ers begins and ends with the defense -- a group of fierce tacklers and menacing ball-hawkers who allowed only one 100-yard rusher all season (Seattle's Marshawn Lynch), two total rushing TDs and posted a league-high turnover margin (+28). Add in a supreme record against eventual playoff teams (5-1) ... and it's easy to see how the 49ers are stalwarts for this survey.