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Bill Barnwell provides case for 49ers Super Bowl victory

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Bill even includes a 1981 49ers comparison to wet your whistle.

The San Francisco 49ers are a team many expect to finish at the bottom of the NFC West and more likely to be competitive for the top draft pick as compared to another Lombardi Trophy. That being said, Week 1 means for many people, there is still some semblance of hope. That hope could be crushed quickly, or maybe things come together and we see some pleasant surprises.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell decided to take full advantage of early hope and provided a case for why each team could win the Super Bowl. So, yes, he provided a blueprint for the 49ers to shock the world this season and take home Lombardi No. 6.

Barnwell looked at the path for each team, and then provided a comparable champion. First up, here’s the path he provided San Francisco:

Like the Browns, the 49ers would need the two dominant teams in front of them (Arizona and Seattle) to fall apart. If that were to happen and their exceedingly difficult schedule fades out, you can dream about a 49ers resurgence. Chip Kelly has pieced together useful offenses with the Eagles despite possessing mediocre-or-worse quarterbacks, and while the San Francisco defense wasn't very good last year, it was also the league's youngest unit per the Football Outsiders Almanac 2016. If the 49ers take a leap forward on defense and run the football well, they could be competitive.

The NFC West could potentially bring two wild card teams to the playoffs, but with the four teams beating up on each other, it is going to be tough for that second wild card team to secure a playoff spot. So yes, if the 49ers or Rams are going to surprise anybody, they would have to leap past one or both of the Cardinals and Seahawks. The offensive line is going to be critical to this offense taking some kind of step forward. Carlos Hyde will be important as well, but an improved offensive line would be what helps this team go from bad to competitive to good.

Barnwell looked at a comparable Super Bowl Champion from the past 50 years, and fittingly, he went with the 1981 San Francisco 49ers. This is how he described the comparison:

While Bill Walsh had been a professional coordinator in Cincinnati and San Diego before going back to Stanford, the 49ers were his first NFL head-coaching job, and the West Coast offense was (at least in part) his revolutionary offensive scheme. It hadn't transformed the 49ers during his first two seasons with the team, as San Francisco went 8-24 over that time frame. In 1981, with third-round pick Joe Montana in his second year as a starter, the 49ers went 13-3 and won the Super Bowl. Their defense made an enormous leap, going from 26th in points allowed to second, with one of the youngest starting 11s in football -- eight of Walsh's 11 starters were 25 or younger.

I don’t expect the 49ers to win the Super Bowl this year, but if the defense takes a big step forward, they could make many games this season a lot more interesting.