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San Francisco 49ers 2012 NFL Season Preview, Predictions

  • By NFL.com
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San Francisco 49ers

www.sf49ers.com
2011 record: 13-3 (First in NFC West)

Fearless Forecast

  • Bucky Brooks

    Jim Harbaugh quickly transformed the 49ers into a heavyweight behind a defense that bludgeons opponents with tenacity and physicality. If Alex Smith can get the offense to score a few more points in big games, it is hard to pick against the 49ers as the team to beat in the NFC.
    Prediction: 12-4, first in NFC West

  • Daniel Jeremiah

    Jim Harbaugh is privileged to have one of the NFL’s deepest and most talented rosters. The defense has pro bowl talent at all three levels; the offense is very talented up front and has a deep stable of running backs.
    Prediction: 11-5, first in NFC West

  • Adam Schein

    Alex Smith is going to be even better with continuity on the offensive staff for the first time in his career. San Francisco beefed up the talent at receiver. The 49ers have the best defense in football.
    Prediction: 11-5, first in NFC West

  • Steve Wyche

    The defense is Super Bowl caliber. There are an abundance of weapons on offense. If Alex Smith takes care of the ball like he did in 2011, the 49ers could be holding the Lombardi Trophy.
    Prediction: 11-5, first in NFC West

In The Spotlight
Alex Smith | #11 | QB

The 49ers came up short at receiver last year, but made sure that’s not an issue in 2012. Randy Moss, A.J. Jenkins, and Mario Manningham all came aboard to make sure Smith has weapons. All can stretch a defense. That all exists under the assumption that Smith can get the ball there, which he hasn’t done consistently in his career. If Smith can connect with Moss deep -- a work in progress -- it will be difficult to stop the 49ers. If not, they won’t realize their considerable potential.

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3 Pivotal Games
Week 1 at Packers
Nothing like an eye-opening stiff test with one of the NFL’s most efficient offenses. The 49ers' nasty front is built to stop the run, but the Packers might not bother. That’s what makes it so intriguing. If San Francisco can cover Green Bay’s pass catchers while pressuring Aaron Rodgers, it might show they’re on their way to being their conference's favorite.
Week 6 vs. Giants
A rematch of the epic NFC title game from last year, these two teams are beginning to revive a fierce rivalry from two decades ago. We can only hope this one is as good as the previous games. Besides the drama of seeing ex-Giants like Brandon Jacobs and Manningham on the other side of the field, the Giants are still the class of the NFC until someone shows them they aren’t. The Niners have a chance.
Week 15 at Patriots
By Week 15, the 49ers could be closing in on a division title if all goes well. To get where they need to go, they’ll be faced with the task of shutting down the high-powered Patriots. The storylines abound, with Tom Brady facing off against his childhood team, while coach Bill Belichick could have to game plan against Randy Moss. Lots of intrigue.

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