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.