San Francisco 49ers: Keys to Winning Super Bowl XLIV

Matthew Yazo@@matthewyazoContributor IJanuary 7, 2012

San Francisco 49ers: Keys to Winning Super Bowl XLIV

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    Remember that time the 49ers went to the playoffs?

    Yes, this is not a flash in the pan moment but rather an awakening.

    It's time to wipe the sleep from everyone's helmets.

    This wasn't some "golly gee it's good to be here" kind of feeling.

    No, this was a "welcome back, we missed you, nice to see you again, now let's go and get that ring!" kind of thing.

    Granted, easier said than done.

    So here are few pointers to remember as the dust clears and the 49ers return to their home away from home: the playoffs.

Red-Zone Scoring Is a 49ers Staple

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    NFL History 101 lesson: who coined the phrase "red zone"?

    Give up?

    Mike Shanahan.

    To even recall that name and the 49ers in the same sentence is to dive into a long and smiling trip down memory lane.

    But the truth now is that the 49ers red-zone offense has simply been, well...not very good.

    In fact it's second to last in the league, last time I checked, and even if they scored a few times in the last few weeks from within the 20 yard line—which they have—it still doesn't mean they should lighten up on the subject.

    Jim Harbaugh runs a version of the West Coast offense (WCO).  And a big chunk of the WCO is the notion of "situational football."

    Look for the 49ers to be practicing a lot of "situational football," namely red-zone offense, during their bye week and into their regular week in preparation for the New Orleans Saints.

    This is where the money's earned folks so look for lots of Vernon and lots of bootlegs and lots of Frank Gore.

3-4 Blitzing Actually Just Might Happen

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    The 49ers really haven't been blitzing too much from the 3-4.  

    Weird, right?

    They've been rushing four; the question is, what four are coming and when?

    Sometimes it's even Pro Bowler Carols Rodgers.  

    But typically it's been rookie Aldon Smith, who has reshaped the 49ers defense in ways that haven't happened since, well, Charles Haley (in other words, a long time).

    Funny thing about Aldon Smith is now that he enters the playoffs, everyone has got him keyed on their radar.  

    Even the lowly Rams saw him coming in the last game of the season and vowed to not let Aldon beat them as they double-teamed him from the first quarter on preventing Aldon from breaking the rookie sack record held by Jevon Kearse.

    But such things might work out in the 49ers favor if they're advantageous enough.  

    If a team decides to double Aldon Smith off the edge, then a blitz off the other edge or up the middle would likely present at least a one-on-one mismatch if not an all out blown scheme, sending Navarro Bowman or Patrick Willis or even Ahmad Brooks into the teeth of the opposing QB.

Remember the 49ers

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    Dear Current 49ers,

    You are the 49ers.

    You are the winner of five Super Bowl Championships.

    I don't care what happened over the last nine years or even last year.

    That doesn't count.

    You represent the Scarlet and Gold and, therefore, must fight for every inch on every play in pursuit of the most ultimate prize: the Lombardi Trophy.

    You are not the Arizona Cardinals.  You are not the San Diego Chargers.

    You are the San Francisco 49ers and success in the regular season is standard operating procedure.  

    This is now the playoffs and this is when the gears shift from third to sixth.

    This is how legends are made and plays are remembered.

    This is your time.

    And nobody's got it better than you.