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Where Do San Francisco 49ers Go From Here?

The San Francisco 49ers may have taken a step forward this year in their quest for a Super Bowl, but still fell short. Their infamous offseason spending spree produced little in the way of results with the incumbent quarterback Alex Smith and fared no better with his replacement Colin Kaepernick. Count the 49ers 2012 draft class among the league’s worst this season too. Much ado about nothing it would appear.

Something that has to be weighing on 49ers fans and management’s minds alike, is whether this team still has a window to compete for the Super Bowl. As is the case with most attempts at predicting the future and speculation in general there is no simple answer.

The lack of production from newcomers in the draft and free agency, in combination with the team’s advancement in the NFL playoffs can only mean one thing. The core of this franchise is still getting better. There are of course a few players in that core that are now north of 30. These player’s are due for a drop in production eventually. No telling when that will happen though. Carlos Rogers was starting to look his age towards the end of this season and Justin Smith suffered a partially torn triceps near the end of the regular season. Those are two very important parts of this team’s defense.

There is also the matter of San Francisco’s salary cap situation going into this offseason, when considering their chances of winning a Super Bowl next season. They currently have 8.7 million cap room for the 2013 season. Assuming they resign Delanie Walker and or Dashon Goldson this won’t leave very much left for free agency. Any changes this offseason will be coming through the draft or trades. Not free agency.

Something that work’s in the 49ers favor though, is the development of Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has yet to even play a full season in the NFL and he’s already reached the Super Bowl. The sky is the limit with Kaepernick and I’m curious to see what he and Greg Roman will bring to the table next season.

All things considered, the 49ers have a pretty good chance of making it back to the Super Bowl next season. They have enough cap space to keep almost all their players and maybe pursue a few depth options in free agency. Not sure how much longer the 49ers window is open, but it will certainly be so next season.

You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV


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