The San Francisco 49ers are a popular preseason Super Bowl pick headed into the 2012 season.
Led by dominant defensive end Justin Smith, and the All-World linebacking duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers plan to be in contention for a Championship so long as their key players stay healthy. And while San Francisco’s fierce front seven will surely be a thorn in the side of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, the 49ers improved offense will provide a difficult test to the Packers heavily scrutinized defense.
In last year’s 13-win season, the 49ers ranked eighth in the league in rushing averaging 127.8 yards per game. However, the passing game was a far different story, as San Francisco ranked 29th in the NFL last season in passing offense, averaging just 183.1 yards per game through the air. Although quarterback Alex Smith did a terrific job taking care of the football, his 17 passing touchdowns ranked just 17th in the NFL.
San Francisco’s deficiencies in the passing game were so glaring that they opted to use only three wide receivers throughout the course of last year’s NFC Championship Game. With Ted Ginn out of the lineup due to injury, the 49ers used a run-oriented approach with at least two tight ends on the field for 81.9 percent of the game.