2012 To Be A Down Year

 

2011 was a magical season that brought our franchise out of the depths of mediocrity and brought back memories of yesteryear. This has shot expectations through the roof for the upcoming season, to the point where it’s almost Superbowl or bust.

What should are realistic expectations be? Is getting back to the playoffs good enough, winning the division, a playoff game, or does it really take a Superbowl appearance?

Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

Losing the NFC Championship hasn’t been a promising endorsement for the following season. In fact the last 7 teams to lose the NFC Championship have failed to win a playoff game with 6 of those teams not even making the playoffs. The Eagles are the only team over the last decade to win a playoff game following a NFC Championship loss. If you take out the Eagles the last team to win a playoff game was the 1999 Minnesota Vikings whom won a wild card game: the year before they had gone 15-1.

Are the 49ers destined to repeat these performances? I hope not, but let’s temper the expectations on this season before we go putting them in the Superbowl. For as close as we were to getting to the Superbowl last year, we were just as close to not winning a playoff game.

It took a lot of hard work to get to the point we were at last year, and it helped that we weren’t getting the national attention we deserved. Now there is a target on our back and all eyes will be on us.

While most don’t think it, we go into this season with a lot of question marks. Will Alex Smith play up to the level he did last year? Can we be fortunate when it comes to injuries? Can our defense create turnovers like it did last year? How well will we do playing a first place schedule? How well will we do against great offenses? How much did the rest of the division improve?

I think we will win the division, but I don’t see us going 13-3 or better this year. We have to travel to play New England, Green Bay, New Orleans, and the Jets. We will not sweep the division and add on hard games against the Lions, Giants, and Bears. I’m thinking a 10-6, 11-5 type of year and we’d be lucky to get a first round bye. That means we are most likely going on the road to face a quality opponent, which is never an easy task.

Perhaps we make it to the big game, but I’d be content with a close divisional round loss, anything less I would deem a failure. No it’s not a homer pick, nor is it what many fans want, but I believe it’s a good goal to set and we can go from there.

Topics: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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  • t_liles

    I’d agree that the success from last season set everyone’s expectations very high. However, after looking at just recent teams that lost in the NFC championship game, none of them have the benefits the 49ers currently do.  Bears in ’10 lost to SB Champ Packers, didn’t return last year due to injuries at key positions (QB being one!).  Vikings were in ’09, and Favre retired after that year so ’10 was a rebuilding year. Skipping ’08; ’07 was the Packers and they didn’t make a good run in ’08 because Favre had just retired, leaving the Pack with 1st year starter Aaron Rodgers. 
    I think that this 49er team, with it’s #1 ranked Defense in the league all returning, key acquisitions on an improving Offense, and a 2nd year coach with many more tricks up his sleeve, is in a much more promising position than these teams listed in years past.  So, yes, I’d say our expectations probably shouldn’t be SB or bust, but we have the capabilities and resources to make another deep playoff run.  

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  • Kingshark49

    It will be interesting to see how the 49ers do with the first place schedule. I agree 13-3 is rather lofty and a 11-5 record may be more realistic. Fans should keep in mind this team is still young and is learning how to win and had a break through year. Getting to the NFC Title game win or lose was a huge accomplishment. The foundation is getting stronger with Jed York, Trent Balke and Jim Harbaugh in charge and all being on the same page. The 49ers have a phenominal defense. Even Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens the closest team he’s seen that immulate what the Ravens do defensively is the 49ers. One bad turnover in one game and a dropped TD pass in the end zone in the other, and it’s the 49ers vs Ravens in the last Super Bowl. The 49ers have direction and are even well stocked for the draft. As for predicting a Super Bowl win, I’m not ready to do that yet however IMHO the 49ers are on the right track to get there. If the 49ers go 11-5 or better in 2012, they will be a strong argument to be a high level contender for the franchises sixth ring. That said, it’s still baby steps, one at a time…