Super Bowl 2012: 49ers Destined for First Super Bowl Appearance Since 1995

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Super Bowl 2012: 49ers Destined for First Super Bowl Appearance Since 1995
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The last time the San Francisco 49ers went to the Super Bowl George Seifert was still the head coach.

The 49ers ended up winning that Super Bowl in 1995, and they have a shot at winning it again in 2012.

The 49ers have gotten to the NFC Championship Game this season with an overpowering defense and an offense that has continued to improve as the season wore on.

A lot of this has to do with the emergence of former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith, who had been labeled a bust up until this season. All Smith did against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round was pass for 299 yards and three touchdowns, throwing a bullet to tight end Vernon Davis for the deciding score with nine ticks left in a 36-32 thriller. It was the best game of his pro career by far.

Now the 49ers are in good position to get to the Super Bowl again after the New York Giants knocked off the defending champion Green Bay Packers.

The Giants are indeed a formidable threat, bringing up memories of their remarkable 2007-2008 turnaround that saw them knock off the vaunted New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Quarterback Eli Manning is on a roll and we all know what he can do with a full head of steam behind him.

But, let's be honest, there has not been a more consistent and dominant defense this season in the NFL than the one the 49ers have. The Giants may be able to score 37 points against the troubled Packers secondary, but it's going to be extremely difficult to do so against the 49ers.

There is the issue of the Giants' tremendous pass rush, which undoubtedly changed the game against the Packers. That is still an issue for the 49ers, as they gave up four sacks against the Saints.

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However, the way this team is playing, you figure they'll find a way to get it done offensively. Rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh is unquestionably the Coach of the Year and he has this team playing better with every game.

Plus, the 49ers have a better running game than the Packers did behind Frank Gore and change-of-pace rookie back Kendall Hunter. This will help expose the Giants rush defense—which gave up 4.5 yards per carry this season—and help as far as controlling the clock.

You add in the 49ers' home-field advantage at Candlestick Park, and you have the 49ers headed to Super Bowl XLVI.

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