Kickoff season previews  

 

Rookie coach and rebuilding team might face long year

  • By NFL.com
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San Francisco 49ers

www.sf49ers.com
2010 record: 6-10 (Third in NFC West)

Fearless Forecast

  • Jason La Canfora

    Rookie head coach + QB by default + a disgruntled RB = Not a good combination.
    Prediction: 5-11, fourth in NFC West

  • Steve Wyche

    Everything comes back to the quarterback, Alex Smith. If something finally clicks, this hard-working, likable player could get San Francisco to 10 wins. If he's been what he's been, he won't finish the season as the starter.
    Prediction: 6-10, third in NFC West

  • Pat Kirwan

    They may very well wind up with the top spot and a chance to draft Andrew Luck. The offensive line needs to get better, Michael Crabtree needs to get healthy and Frank Gore needs to stop the contract complaints.
    Prediction: 2-14, fourth in NFC West

  • Bucky Brooks

    Jim Harbaugh will soon find out that his predecessors were right about Alex Smith's inability to get it done as a franchise quarterback.
    Prediction: 3-13, fourth in NFC West

  • Elliot Harrison

    Everyone seems to trust Jim Harbaugh until he starts talking about Alex Smith. Meanwhile, the 49ers lost many a player in free agency and have a learning curve under a new coach, making 2011 a difficult year to win a weak division.
    Prediction: 7-9, third in NFC West

On the hot seat

Braylon Edwards | #81 | WR

Edwards has a chance to supplant Vernon Davis as the 49ers' No.1 option in the passing game. His combination of size, speed and athleticism can overwhelm defenders, and lead to big plays for Harbaugh's squad.

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3 Pivotal Games
Week 2 vs. Cowboys
Maybe it won't be shades of Dwight Clark and "The Catch" or the classic quarterback battles of the 1990s between Steve Young and Troy Aikman. But there's still something special about the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry. Both squads will be in search of an early season win to help move on from last year's failures.
Week 12 at Ravens
When the Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes reached its peak in January and the 49ers were in the mix, many folks hoped he would end up in San Francisco for this game alone. This will be Harbaugh's chance to show up his older brother, John, before a national television audience on Thanksgiving on "Thursday Night Football."
Week 16 at Seahawks
The stakes might be high for this Christmas Eve matchup, as these two NFC West teams could be jockeying for playoff position -- or possibly facing elimination. Making this matchup even juicier is the rivalry between Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, which dates back to their coaching days at Stanford and USC, respectively.

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