August 26, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) prepares to throw the ball during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
After a 13-3 season and a loss in the NFC Championship game, the San Francisco 49ers are looking to show that their sudden turn-around wasn't a fluke. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have kept the roster relatively intact, and they've got what is potentially their toughest matchup all season in Week 1 when they head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. For more on the 49ers, head on over to SB Nation's blog for the 49ers, Niners Nation.
This is it. The preseason is in the books, teams have cut down to the official regular season limit of 53 players on their roster, and we are officially in Week 1. A season ago, the San Francisco 49ers exceeded expectations mightily, thanks to an entirely new coaching staff and some new faces on both sides of the ball. A dominating defense helped San Francisco to nine wins in its first 10 games.
They finished 13-3, and made it past the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round, before falling to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game. It was a crushing and deflating defeat, but the 49ers showed they were the real deal time and time again last season.
Now it's time for them to show that it wasn't a fluke.
Alex Smith remains the starting quarterback (he's on quite a roll), and the defense looks just as strong as it was a year ago. Second-year player Aldon Smith remains a player to watch on defense, while the only positions that really speaks to any kind of lack of stability is the right guard position.
In fact, right guard and wide receiver are the only positions on the team to swap starters, aside from the aforementioned Aldon Smith taking over at the right outside linebacker spot. Alex Boone is the guy at right guard until he slips up - he's only been playing the position since the beginning of training camp. Wide receiver will be an interesting position to watch thanks to new additions in Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and rookie first-round pick A.J. Jenkins.
Stay tuned for this stream all week as we break down the matchups and tell you what to watch for. As a refresher, you can check out our thoughts on the 49ers' 53-man roster - first the offense, and then the defense.