Originally written on Cippin on Sports  |  Last updated 1/5/12

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

Brady issues statement on Facebook after having suspension lifted

Don Orsillo reportedly asked to lie about being fired by NESN

Matt Cassel believes Bills will keep three quarterbacks

St. Louis police seize scalpers' World Series tickets to give to friends

Eli Manning happy Tom Brady will play NFL season opener

Phil Kessel has shed 13 pounds this summer

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cam Newton addresses ‘gang’ photo on Instagram

Steelers defense is younger and faster but not better

Duke basketball to visit White House next Tuesday

Report: Cowboys have interest in Broncos RB Montee Ball

NFL owners to discuss changing Goodell's disciplinary role

Report: Eagles trade Matt Barkley to Arizona Cardinals

WATCH: Ben Revere gifted Matt Wieters a home run

Judge Sarah Thomas as an NFL official, not a female NFL official

Redskins skip Robert Griffin III in jersey countdown

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Simona Halep popular with fans who want to kiss her

Patriots planned on raising a "Brady banner on opening night

Braves and Phillies sucking at the same time is rare

Montana St. linebacker delivers bone crushing hit in opener

Despite loss, all eyes still on Jim Harbaugh, Wolverines

Kirk Cousins discusses what it’s like to be called ‘Kurt’

Playoffs or not, Bryce Harper is the NL MVP

Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly seeking alimony

Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler: A love/hate relationship

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

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Tom Brady issues statement on Facebook

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker