13-3 Last season New faces: WR Randy Moss, WR Mario Manningham, RB Brandon Jacobs, CB Perrish Cox, RB LaMichael James, WR A. J. Jenkins (first-round pick). Key...
13-3 Last season
New faces: WR Randy Moss, WR Mario Manningham, RB Brandon Jacobs, CB Perrish Cox, RB LaMichael James, WR A.J. Jenkins (first-round pick).
Key losses: OL Chilo Rachal, CB Shawntae Spencer.
Strengths: Depth and familiar faces. GM Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh brought back entire starting 11 from defense that was tops at stopping run and became first team in NFL history not to give up rushing TD through first 14 games. Also went 36 straight without allowing 100-yard runner. Have capable backups on defense, and there are plenty of RBs to spell three-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore.
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Weaknesses: Receiving corps was priority after Niners wideouts managed one catch for 3 yards in 20-17 OT loss to Giants in NFC title game. That’s big reason they took low-risk chance on Moss after he spent year out of football, and added two pieces from New York’s title team in Manningham and Jacobs.
Expectations: Ended franchise-worst eight-year stretch without playoff berth or winning record — and now they want to take success to Super Bowl. While even Harbaugh has acknowledged 49ers might not match last season’s win total facing tougher schedule, he knows players are much further along running his system than a year ago. Harbaugh insists team never “flirted” with Peyton Manning (now in Denver) and that Alex Smith has been his No. 1 QB all along.
The Associated Press