49ers: Why It’s Super Bowl or Bust Next Season


Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) celebrates his touchdown with tight end Vernon Davis (85) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There is only one result that will satisfy San Francisco 49ers’ players, coaches and of course, us fans. Unless Jim Harbaugh is hoisting the Lombardi trophy next February, the 2013 season will be a disappointment.

Personally, I want to see Frank Gore win a Super Bowl. Heck, I want to see him win Super Bowl MVP (a rushing TD might have done it this year). How many more chances will he get?

Coach Harbaugh will be around for years to come. Colin Kaepernick is still playing on his rookie contract. The team will be competitive for a few years here.

That’s all to the good, but it has to happen with Gore on the team. A Super Bowl win in 2014 or beyond would be bittersweet if Gore is not involved.

Undoubtedly the San Francisco 49ers will be one of the favorites to win it all this next season. The roster is basically set, the defense remains top-notch, and Colin Kaepernick can only get better with a full offseason as the starting QB. What could go wrong?

First, Kaepernick could get blown up. Alex Smith seemed the bastion of conservative play until he executed an awkward “slide” and lost his job. Kaep is not conservative, and has shown a tendency to lower his shoulder and take on defenders. That habit should be broken by Harbaugh this offseason, but Kaep’s play style is dangerous and there isn’t another Kaep on the bench.

Second, the division isn’t getting easier. Seattle is brutal. Arizona is a QB away from relevance. St. Louis, specifically Jeff Fischer, has the 49ers number. This could mean a Wild Card game, something they’ve avoided the previous two years.

No sweat, you say? Baltimore, the NY Giants and Green bay all won the Super Bowl and played a Wild Card game! True, but the 49er defense rarely rotates players and clearly gets worn down by the end of the season. That extra game could sap enough juice to leave the team vulnerable.

Lastly, as Eric Branch wrote in SFGate.com, four other teams lost in the Championship Round one year and then lost the Super Bowl the next year. None of those four made it back to either game, and only two even made it back to the playoffs. A Super Bowl win would be unprecedented.

But then, so was Harbaugh’s emergence into professional coaching. He won the Coach of the Year in his first year. The team won this year’s NFC Championship game, the biggest comeback in that round’s history. Clearly, Harbaugh is capable of bucking trends and succeeding where others did not.

So, Coach Harbaugh, you’ve gotten our hopes up, made us believe again, have one of the hottest young QBs in recent memory, and have concocted a devious scheme that continually has the other team guessing. This team has to win it all. It’s Super Bowl or bust.