Originally written on Cippin on Sports  |  Last updated 11/16/14

Posted in NFLOpinion

At 13-3 through the 2011 NFL regular season, the San Francisco 49ers are among the NFC’s elite, but are they good enough to return the franchise to the levels it consistently reached during the 1980s and 1990s?

With a win over the St. Louis Rams in Seattle on New Year’s Day, the 49ers are now the No. 2 seed in the upcoming 2012 NFL playoffs. First-year head coach Jim Harbaugh has reignited the 49er fan base’s enthusiasm and excitement about the team’s postseason prospects (especially after clinching the NFC West) but is it enough to propel the team to the sport’s ultimate stage?

The Super Bowl and San Francisco have not seriously been mentioned in the same sentence for more than a decade, but it’s hard to knock the 49ers’ chances of reaching Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, 2012.

But, we can find a way.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Ranked close to dead last in the NFL, the 49ers’ passing game is hardly at the level it was during the Joe Montana and Steve Young eras, but their Frank Gore-led, 9th-ranked rushing game is a force to be contended with.

San Francisco’s defense ranks 21st against the pass and 1st against the rush, but if the team has any chance of slowing the passing attacks of New Orleans or Green Bay, its secondary is going to need to step up and perform. The 49er pass defense did play well against Pittsburgh in the team’s 20-3 win on Monday night in Week 15, but did surrender 305 yards through the air in spite of picking off three Ben Roethlisberger passes and sacking him three times.

In the end, the 49ers showed they can keep a high-powered passing offense out of the end zone.

Final Word

Given its normally less-than-impressive pass defense, the 49ers’ chances of reaching the Super Bowl look bleak, especially because each of the NFC’s potential matchups (Green Bay, New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta and Detroit) produce more than twice the passing yards as they do on the ground. As impressive as San Francisco’s season has been to date, its weaknesses appear to be too numerous to overcome in pursuit of the Super Bowl.

The 49ers’ offense is rush-centric and its passing game is sub-par. Name the last Super Bowl participant that that could have been said about. Harbaugh has done an impressive job at taking a squad that went 6-10 in 2010 and turning it into a contender, but the chances appear slim that the 49ers will advance beyond the first game of the upcoming postseason.

You gotta like the 49ers’ chances of getting closer to the Super Bowl in 2012 and beyond, though. Especially if they can make some moves to strengthen their passing game and passing defense.

This post was contributed by Jason Carib. Jason is a Manhattan native who works as a writer with the Phoenix Bats Company, which manufacturers world-class wood bats, such as their popular maple bats for amateur and professional ballplayers around the globe.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Klay Thompson takes knee to head from Ariza

DeSean Jackson skips Redskins OTAs, goes to Cavs game

Texans to be featured on HBO's 'Hard Knocks'

WATCH: Ducks score controversial goal

Report: Ray McDonald arrested for violating restraining order

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Braves, Dodgers complete six-player swap

USA Soccer, CONCACAF losers in FIFA’s ‘World Cup of fraud’

Report: Tom Brady suspension appeal date not set yet

Are the St. Louis Rams setting up Nick Foles for failure?

LeBron: Didn't see Cavs reaching Finals at start of season

Pete Carroll: Communication with Russell Wilson is ‘great’

Lil B takes credit for Harden's terrible game, lifts curse

Riley Curry steals show at postgame news conference

Warriors beat Rockets in Game 5, advance to NBA Finals

Kentucky fan in Louisville has 38-1 sticker on car

Nick Kyrgios talks sex before tourneys, dating female players

Jared Dudley: 'Melo is most overrated player in NBA

Garrick Sherman bashes NCAA in epic drunken Twitter rant

Adrian Peterson denies reports that he wants to be traded

Report: Bulls players told Tom Thibodeau will not be back

Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders "gets it"

Bucs DE George Johnson is a dog show enthusiast

The 3-point shot has become a divisive metaphor in the NBA

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

USA Soccer, CONCACAF losers in FIFA’s ‘World Cup of fraud’

The 3-point shot has become a divisive metaphor in the NBA

Corey Crawford is the weakest link for the Blackhawks

Star player missing OTAs? Keep calm...

Transfer rumors: Drogba, Pirlo and Gomez linked to MLS

Cano's slump: The good news, bad news

Disappointments of the MLB season

UGA wants SEC to ban transfers with misconduct issues

Long's great reaction to Bears releasing McDonald

Crazy stats from the NBA Playoffs

Royals' Guthrie sets records in blowout

Bears cut McDonald after incident

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.