2013: 12-4; lost in NFC Championship Game to Seattle
The 49ers and the Seahawks represent two of the NFL’s best heading into 2014 and stand as the hottest rivalry in the league. The two played a pair of intense, down-to-the-wire regular season games, coming with the whole enchilada of trash talk, barking coaches, etc. Then the two met again in the Seattle for the NFC Championship Game after San Fran beat Green Bay and Carolina on the road. This third matchup went Seattle’s way, but the stars on San Fran could easily have pushed themselves over the top to make a second straight Super Bowl. Seattle and San Fran both ranked in the top eight for total, pass, and rush yardage. They were also #1 and #3, respectively, in points per game allowed. The Niners got off to a 1-2 and 6-4 start before reeling off six straight wins to end the season. When they did struggle it was offensively, as QB Colin Kaepernick (3,197 pass yards, 524 rush yards, 25 total TDs) didn’t have the breakout year some expected and was pretty inconsistent. He put together a great year on the stat sheet though, earning him a huge extension and a vote of confidence from coach Jim Harbaugh. Frank Gore (1,128 yards), 9 TDs remains a reliable and underrated back. Anquan Boldin (85 rec, 1,179 yards, 7 TDs) had his best season in five years at age 33; his career had taken a downturn in Baltimore. The beloved Vernon Davis (850 yards, 13 TDs) remains the favorite redzone target of Kaepernick. In fact, only one passing touchdown didn’t go to Davis or Boldin; Michael Crabtree got one in an injury-riddled season.
The Niners may be looking at regression defensively as their cross-bay rival Oakland snagged two of their top corners in Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, but they picked up Minnesota corner Chris Cook. Losing S Donte Whitner is a big loss, but newcomer Antoine Bethea is probably an upgrade. The 49ers made a risky move in taking Northern Illinois S Jimmie Ward in the first round but if that pays off it should deepen the secondary. Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde, the second round pick, is now the heir apparent to Gore. They stockpiled draft picks, coming home with 12 players. They’re bound to hit on at least a few of them. They retain defensive backs NaVorro Bowman (120 tackles, 5 sacks), Patrick Willis (82 tackles, 3 sacks), Ahmad Brooks (8.5 sacks), and Eric Reid (4 INTs), while Aldon Smith (42 sacks in three seasons) faces serious legal trouble. The biggest news of all this fall may be the stadium, however. Brand new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is set to open this season. The big debut game comes in a Week 2 showdown against the Bears on Sunday Night Football. The stadium seats nearly 70,000 but looks smaller, and also somewhat resembles Ford Field with one side of the field all general seating and the other side home to suite levels stacked on top of each other. This allows for a good view for all fans. The Niners have made it to at least the conference finals in all three years under Harbaugh; don’t miss their latest playoff run! Gold Coast Tickets has the best 49ers tickets!