The San Francisco 49ers had an amazing and memorable season. Coming off a 6-10 record last year, the 49ers came out of nowhere to compile a 13-3 regular-season record.
The 49ers then defeated the New Orleans Saints 36-32 in a thrilling playoff contest, which sent them to the NFC Championship Game. Prior to the beginning of the season, nobody could have predicted such a phenomenal year for the 49ers.
The 49ers fell to the New York Giants in overtime of the NFC Championship Game by a score of 20-17. It was an incredibly tough, physical game.
The defenses of both teams played extremely well and the difference turned out to be two huge turnovers by 49ers' punt return man Kyle Williams. One muffed punt ultimately resulted in a New York touchdown and the fumble in overtime resulted in the game-ending field goal by Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes.
Unfortunately, the 49ers' magical season is over. There are several players with expiring contracts and the Niners will need to make some critical decisions on these impending free agents.
The players whose contracts are up include Alex Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Dashon Goldson, Carlos Rogers, Josh Morgan, Adam Snyder, Chilo Rachal and Ted Ginn. It will be very interesting to see which of these players GM Trent Baalke wants to and is able to keep on the squad.
Some of the 49er veterans I do not expect to see on the 2012 roster are Ginn, Rachal, Shawntae Spencer, Moran Norris and Madieu Williams. These are expensive players that did not measure up their salary level.
Now that the 2011 season has ended, let's take a look at five critical areas the 49ers need to upgrade. If San Francisco hopes to make another run at a Super Bowl, these are key upgrades that must happen for the 49ers.