The 49ers have been named as favorites to either play in or win the Super Bowl this year by several betting institutions and media outlets. As is usually the case this time of year, that creates a stir among fans of other teams. Their first reaction is that it can't, won't happen and they begin throwing out reasons why...many of which are unfounded and lazy.
This morning I headed over to ProFootballTalk's piece covering Vernon Davis' comments on the matter. I suggest you go there if you want to get the ole blood pumping...just read the comments. I did just that and it inspired this post, an open letter to the doubters and their often ludicrous arguments against the notion.
Now, first and foremost I don't put any stock into predictions such as this. It means nothing to me that people feel the 49ers have a better-than-average shot at the "Big Game". But that doesn't mean it's out of the realm of possibility in any way. It actually makes sense the reasons why. So let's get into it.
Most of the comments mention the need for an elite QB and how the 49ers don't have one. They say you can't win a Super Bowl without better offense than the 49ers have.
I would say that being two special teams fumbles away from the Super Bowl mostly dispels that myth. Also of note, neither QB threw for 300 yards in the SB this year. In fact winning QB Eli Manning, who did come close to 300 yards, only threw for one touchdown. Overall the game was relatively low-scoring at 21-17 with the Giants offense only accounting for 15 points.
Against the Saints in the playoffs Alex Smith threw for 299 yards, three touchdowns and added another one rushing. He's certainly capable of "big offense".
He also played in a new system last year without the benefit of a full off-season with a new coaching staff. Everyone knows Alex plays most timid when he doesn't fully feel comfortable. This year will only strengthen his comfort level, not to mention the addition of some offensive weapons. Next.
Ah, the tired argument of "playing in the worst division in football". Except the 49ers beat playoff teams all season long (Lions, Bengals, Giants, and Saints in post-season). They only lost two games outside of the division.
Back to the QB "issue"...someone mentions how the 49ers will continue to get "erratic play" from their QB in 2012. Nothing in the last two years suggests that Alex Smith plays "erratic" at all. In fact, here are some stats (courtesy of Eric Branch).
QB rating (last 665 attempts): 1. Rodgers, 114.88; 2. Brees, 106.21; 3. Brady, 102.85; 4. Romo, 101.45; 5. Stafford, 96.32; 6. E. Manning, 94.23; 7. Alex Smith, 92.81; 8. P. Manning 92.74; 9. Schaub, 91.93; 10. Ryan 90.79; 11. Rivers 88.98; 12. Roethlisberger 88.25; 13. Vick 86.35; 14. Cutler 83.69; 15. Flacco 83.12.
Alex Smith (last 24 games): 395 of 665, 4,780 yards, 30 TD, 6 INT, 92.8 rating.
Not sure what qualifies as erratic there. Six interceptions in 24 games? 30 TD's might not be spectacular, but he's nothing if not consistent...opposite of "erratic".
Another comment says that the 49ers are "superbowl winners of cheerleading. they are really into themselves."
Really? Vernon Davis was asked about how droves of media outlets and gambling institutions had picked the 49ers as SB favorites.
He didn't make a Rex Ryan prediction. He did however use common sense in the idea that the team was within two special-teams fumbles of going to the Super Bowl with the same, if not inferior, cast of characters.
Finally, in terms of the 49ers being the ones trumpeting their Super Bowl chances, it's simply not true. Davis was asked by a reporter what he thought about the fact that the 49ers had been listed as favorites to win it all and he responded with confidence, but also said it was all about the hard work between now and then.
Jim Harbaugh was also asked about the subject and had this to say, which pretty much sums it up:
Something most people may not realize is the 49ers are returning all 11 starters on defense from 2011 and the only offensive players they "lost" were quite...offensive at times (Adam Snyder, Chilo Rachal). Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Donte Whitner, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith...these guys all still play for the team. If ANY of the newly-added players provide something extra there's no reason to believe the team won't be better in 2012.
Now, is that a guarantee that "victory is ours"? Of course not. But on paper there's no valid argument against continued success. The unforseen is still out there, obviously, but please stop with the invalid arguments that were clearly not researched in any way.