SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers stands with head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers.during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers performed well above expectations in 2011-12, but how did the individual moving parts perform? We'll grade 'em all out and examine potential replacements throughout the offseason. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.
The San Francisco 49ers looked so much better in 2011 than just about anybody predicted. If there's somebody who legitimately saw such a season coming, we'd love to see a screenshot or two, because we've got some lotto numbers to run by you. The season was ultimately 14-4 counting the playoffs and an appearance in the NFC Championship game, significantly better than what was expected of them. Most figured a four-to-six win season with poor quarterback play and a terrible secondary.
But Jim Harbaugh turned out to be a hit and the players rallied around him. This team that was regarded as the most talented in the NFC West for the last three years or so finally pulled it all together and won football games. They played how they were supposed to. But not everybody was perfect, there were some slip-ups. A couple players actually under-performed in 2011 in comparison to how well many thought.
Joe Staley had a somewhat disappointing year while the entire offensive line was inconsistent, while someone like NaVorro Bowman performed well-over expectations and looked like the second coming of Patrick Willis. San Francisco boasted possibly the best special teams unit in the NFL and their defensive line dominated the offensive fronts.
Throughout this (sudden) offseason, we'll take a look at each player and each position, examine how they did with some grades and look for potential replacements in the 2012 NFL Draft and, of course, free agency. Stick around for positional grades to see just how good, or bad the individual moving parts of San Francisco's success performed.