The Super Bowl is an emotional tug of war; an opportunity to feel the highest of highs or the absolute lowest of lows. There’s no middle ground, and the San Francisco 49ers are currently experiencing the not-so-pleasant end of this spectrum.
The 49ers built their entire year around their quest for the ultimate prize, and coming up 2 minutes and 7 yards short is a tough pill to swallow. Perhaps the most devastating aspect of Super Bowl defeat is feeling like an opportunity was squandered; to survive the grueling NFL playoffs and make the big game, a team can’t help but feel that it is their year. Even great teams often only get one shot at it all, and although no one ever wants to acknowledge it, failing to win a Super Bowl often means surrendering many players’ last chance at a championship.
This is something the San Francisco 49ers should not have to worry about.
There are certainly areas where San Francisco could improve or get younger, but this team is still on the upswing. Anything can happen, but I would be absolutely shocked if the 49ers didn’t make at least one more Super Bowl appearance in the next five years.
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Across the board, the 49ers possess young players who are only going to get better with time. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is coming off the 10th start of his career, and if he looked this good through his first ten starts then we can only imagine where he’ll go from here.
The offensive line is young and talented, led by veteran Jonathan Goodwin at center. Frank Gore is getting older, but LaMichael James and Kendall Hunter give San Francisco plenty of reason to believe that their running game should not experience a drop-off.
On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers have some of the best young stars in the game. Youngsters Navarro Bowman and Aldon Smith should improve in the coming seasons, and defensive anchor Patrick Willis is still only 28. The secondary is the team’s biggest area for concern, but they are still in better shape than much of the league’s defensive backfield.
Losing in the Super Bowl is one of the most devastating feelings in sports, and history tells us that Super Bowl losers often don’t get another chance to redeem themselves. The young 49ers have everything it takes to be the exception to that rule, though, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see us talking about San Francisco for next year’s Super Bowl.