Ignore the critics, San Francisco 49ers are among the elite

Don’t believe the naysayers. The 49ers will have another outstanding year, win the NFL West easily and be in the Super Bowl hunt again. It wouldn’t shock me if they won the Super Bowl for the first time since the dynasty years.

The latest cliche is that the 49ers will have a target on their backs because of their 2011 success. That’s ridiculous. NFL teams look at the team that won the Super Bowl, going over game videos and prepare to beat the champ.

That’s why it’s so difficult to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

The 49ers did not win the Super Bowl. They didn’t even get to it. They were certainly the surprise team of the NFL last season, but when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-3 in their fifth game, and followed that with a win over the then-undefeated Lions in Detroit, they got everybody’s attention. From that point, they were regarded as a premier team, and opposing teams prepared for them in that fashion. They’ll continue to do that this year, so there will be no change.

The 49ers have again become a model franchise. Trent Baalke is making consistently good decisions as a general manager, and he’s brought in experienced NFL people to help. No computer geeks making decisions now.

Baalke looked at the roster and saw the obvious weakness at wide receiver, so he took A.J. Jenkins with the 49ers’ first draft pick and then signed veterans Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. The one loss in the offseason was right guard Adam Snyder. The Niners have moved Alex Boone from tackle to guard and coach Jim Harbaugh has said he’s pleased with him, but Baalke signed veteran Leonard Davis last week. Davis has been an outstanding guard. He may not have much left but, at the very least, he can be a helpful tutor to Boone.

Harbaugh is a tough coach who always supports his players, and he’s brought in top-flight assistants, just as Bill Walsh did, and let them coach. This year, they’ve had the regular offseason minicamps and organized team activities, which they didn’t have last year. When good coaches have more time to coach, the team benefits.

At the heart of all the negative critiques, of course, is the fact that many members of the media can’t yet admit they were wrong about quarterback Alex Smith. When I was on a television sports show last week, the host asked me if I thought Smith would have another season in which he would throw only five interceptions. I said no, but that I expected Smith to throw many more touchdown passes because of the improvement in his receivers.

Last year, Harbaugh knew he had a team that was woefully short of quality receivers, so he emphasized the running game and defense. He’ll open up the offense this year with better receivers, but not wildly. Winning the turnover battle will always be important as it was for Walsh, too. His Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Joe Montana and

Steve Young, threw many more touchdowns than interceptions.

This is a good time to be a 49ers fan. Ignore the naysayers and enjoy.

Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at glenndickey36@gmail.com.

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