Will the San Francisco 49ers Kaep-ture the Moment?

2013 49ersIn the National Football League, opportunities are given on a limited basis.  In any given year, a team can be a Super Bowl winner or loser, a conference champion and yet miss the playoffs the very next season. Opportunity indeed knocks and it is up to the respective team to take full advantage of it.

That can definitely be said for the San Francisco 49ers. A team coming off of a controversial Super Bowl loss, one that can be considered to completely deflate an entire organization. Not to mention, demoralize a young quarterback early in his career.

But not for this team.

A few years ago, in the NFC Championship game, the 49ers were minutes away from making their first Super Bowl appearance since 1994. However, losing to the New York Giants was devastating, but in true 49ers fashion, they bounced back like true champions (figuratively) after the loss, making it to the Super Bowl the very next season.

There was no NFC Championship hangover.

One thing is for sure, coach Jim Harbaugh will have his team ready this upcoming season. The question then becomes, how big is their window of opportunity? Today, it is hard to form a dynasty– considering free agency, coordinators getting promotions and salary cap ramifications.

Let’s analyze the offensive side of the ball.

It starts with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Colin has one thing going for him — his age. He is a young athletic quarterback that has the potential to go down as one of the greatest to ever play this game. Potential does not necessarily translate into success, but Colin is heading in the right direction.

Having a young quarterback at the helm is usually half the battle for most franchises. Teams do not have a tough time finding a good quarterback, it is when they search for the great ones, that they encounter turbulence. It appears the 49ers do not have anything to worry about in this specific scenario.

But what about the other skilled positions?

Running back Frank Gore is coming off of a 1,214 yard season with eight rushing touchdowns. Those are solid numbers, but one number that Gore does not have going for him is age. Gore is entering his 10th NFL season and is approaching the age that most running backs drop in productivity.

The formidable 30.

It has happen to all the great ones and will eventually happen to Gore. With running back Kendall Hunter coming off of a major injury and running back LaMichael James looking like more of a third down back — the 49ers may be treading in deep water.

Granted, they drafted running back Marcus Lattimore,  perhaps as Gore’s successor, but that is not a solid back up plan to replace him. At least for now it does not seem so. Only the future will tell.

Another skilled position is at tight end. Pivotal to this team, TE Vernon Davis is positioned to have a monster upcoming season: Davis is arguably one of the best tight ends in the league, if not the best, pound for pound. He is coming off of a 548 yard season catching five touchdowns passes, which some may argue is well below what his ability entails. This Maryland native will be entering his tenth NFL season and approaching the big 3-0 as well.

The wild card on offense is wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree is only 25 years young — coming off of a career year catching 85 balls for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. You may wonder why he is a wild card? Well, because he just ruptured his achilles and we are not 100-percent sure of how effective he will be once he returns. Anything can happen after a major injury to a professional athlete. They can come back stronger and better or weaker and not as effective.

Even if he comes back full strength, will the 49ers pay him big money?

You know Crabtree will test the free agent market and the 49ers do not usually like getting into bidding wars. After Crabtree, there is wide receiver Anquan Boldin on the depth chart. Boldin is 32 years old and is only on a one-year deal with the team.

The rest of the 49ers receiving core are either rookies or too inexperienced to be mentioned. Now that is a scary thought. A bright future could be on the horizon for players like Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins and Quinton Patton but nothing is imminent.

Transitioning to the defensive side — the heart and soul for the 49ers is linebacker Patrick Willis.

Willis is already entering his 8th NFL season as a pro and is coming off of another dominating year. The fact of the matter is, Willis is still in his prime at age 28, but the amount of beating his body takes at the linebacker position is beginning to take a toll on him. The last few years Willis has been banged up with injuries and just recently had a surgical procedure on his hand.

This is normal wear and tear but it can also be attributed to “aging” in football years. Willis probably has numerous great seasons ahead of him but the recent injuries could be a concern.

Another dominating force on the defensive side of the ball is defensive end Justin Smith.  Smith is entering his 14th NFL season and it is no secret San Francisco is his last destination for his pro football career. At age 33, Smith is coming off of a torn tricep surgery and the ball club is already preparing for life after the proverbial beast. It is obvious that he only has a few years left to play in the NFL.

He is the motor that never stops and players like linebacker Aldon Smith benefit from that. When Smith went down with the tricep injury, Aldon struggled a bit.

Other players like safety Dashon Goldson, tight end Delanie Walker, defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga all left the team in free agency. The 49ers have shown time and time again that they do not like over paying for players. Just ask Goldson — who made the Pro Bowl the previous two seasons with the 49ers — and still failed to get a contract offer from San Francisco during the off-season.

Now that is a bold statement.

Fans do not have to hit the panic button just yet, but one thing is for sure is that the 49ers are in a win now mode. Reaching the playoffs is not their only goal. Some would even go to the extent of Super Bowl or bust.

May be a bit dramatic but definitely a possibility. The team needs to do whatever it takes to win it all now. Perhaps even take a chance on someone like WR Terrell Owens.

It would be a low risk and a high reward type of signing.

Taking full advantage of the opportunity should be San Francisco’s main goal in 2013. A Super Bowl hangover cannot occur — especially because franchise players like Gore, Davis, Smith and Willis do not often end up playing together for the same team. Icing on the cake is having a talent like Kaepernick leading them at the quarterback position.

Whos got it better than us?