The San Francisco 49ers and their fans have every reason to be excited for the upcoming season after finishing 13-3 and just one play away from the Super Bowl in 2011. For the 2012 season, things are looking even brighter as the team has improved over the offseason. Like any season, there are questions going in, but the future looks bright.
Here are ten reasons fans should be excited to watch the 49ers this season:
1. More Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh is not only a good coach, but he’s fun to watch coach. From the handshake controversy in Detroit in 2011, to his “What’s your deal?” blast at USC against his old buddy and current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, it’s an adventure each and every time the man takes the sidelines. If you’re a fan of the San Francisco 49ers, there’s no way you’re not absolutely psyched about seeing what he does next.
2. Patrick Willis
Patrick Willis is a man among boys, and he was recently named to the list of the NFL’s top-10 players. “He’s a crazy dude on the football field,” says teammate Frank Gore.
Watching him play is watching history unfold in front of our eyes. He’s that good. The scary thing about Willis for opponents is that he’s still improving. He’s made the Pro Bowl every year he’s been in the league (2007-2011), and his lowest sack total for the year has been 13.0. There’s no stopping him, and now that he’s had a taste of the postseason, all bets are off as to how good he can be.
3. Last Years at The Stick
With the New Santa Clara Stadium slated to open in 2014, the San Francisco 49ers will do everything they can to make the last days of Candlestick Park as memorable as ever. With five titles under its belt, it will be fun to see if the old venue can squeeze out one or two more trophies. in its rich history. Hopefully, the $1.2 billion venue will be the home to many more titles to come.
4. The Randy Moss Circus
No 49ers fan wants to see Randy Moss create a distraction to the detriment of the team, but if he can give fans a little bit of “Randy being Randy” while coming to work as a true professional, then it will be an ideal situation. Fans will be entertained, and he’ll contribute to an offense that needs him in the vertical passing game. Why then, does that sound like a lot to ask for?
Here’s to hoping — and praying.
5. Passing Game Verticality
There are no more excuses, and it’s time to take the training wheels off of Alex Smith. The former No. 1 overall pick has had no continuity to speak of during his roller coaster ride in San Francisco as the team’s starter. Now will be the second year under Harbaugh, and he will now be tasked with moving the ball down the field via the vertical passing game.
6. 11 Returning Starters on Defense
The defense was tops in the league in 2011, and it’s returning all of its starters from a year ago. That doesn’t bode well for opponents, but it will be a thing of beauty for fans. Willis will lead this group into a season where the expectations are high and the sky is the limit in terms of the team’s potential.
7. Week 1 vs. Green Bay
The 49ers and Green Bay Packers will square off in Week 1 of the regular season. In 2010, the teams faced off and things didn’t go so well for the Niners. They lost in a rout, 34-16. This time around, they’ll travel to Lambeau Field with a lttle more confidence in knowing that they were the better team in 2011. This could become a rivalry yet again.
8. Dynamic Rookies
Rookie first round pick and 49ers No. 1 draft choice A.J. Jenkins out of the University of Illinois has joined the team with a lot of question marks. The team will look forward to finding out what it has in Jenkins as well as its other rookies come the start of the season. LaMichael James could become the team’s secret weapon out of the backfield and could spell Frank Gore as he tries to preserve his body for the rigors of another late-season run.
9. Monday Night Football
After being all but absent from national television in recent years, the 49ers earned themselves two Monday Night Football appearances in 2012. The first will be against the rival Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. The second matchup will be even more fun as the team hosts the Chicago Bears.
Expect that game to have significant postseason implications as both teams figure to be among the best in their respective divisions.
10. “Who’s Got it Better Than Us? Nobody!”
It’s become the rallying cry of the team, and it could build momentum as the team has more and more success under the Harbaugh regime. This phrase could very well be the next big trend in sports if the 49ers can build a special season from what looks like the makings of a very good foundation. It will all come down to how prepared the team is to embrace this mantra and deliver when it’s all on the line.
Again, make sure you check out the Harbaugh article by Sean Swaby, unless you hate laughing or being entertained — if that’s the case, we definitely don’t recommend it.
Michael C. Jones is the Editor of Sports Out West. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets
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