San Francisco have tough defense—last year they proved that was a certainty, but in comparison, the offense falls far behind.
Don't get me wrong, Alex Smith is a great quarterback who proved that he can engineer victories when the game is on the line, but compared to the defense, the Niners offense is weaker.
2012 could be the year of change with Alex Smith at the helm.
The 49ers have all but ruled out chasing Peyton Manning, stating that Smith is the man to move their team forward. And when you consider that they were two punting mistakes away from the Super Bowl, you've got to say it's a fair point.
It's also a fair point to state that their passing attack stalled at times last year.
For a team ranked third in total defense, they ranked 29th in their aerial attack.
At times, the problem was Smith's passing inefficiency, like the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants, which saw him complete one of 11 passes on third down.
Other times, the problem was the skill of his receivers.
Teams need their go-to-weapon—the player that even with a one-on-one situation, can still make a big catch and game changing play.
You think of players like Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Wes Welker and A.J. Green.
You don't think of the 49ers' wide receivers.
Michael Crabtree may have led the team in receiving yards, but he did also only manage three touchdowns in the process.
Vernon Davis was the savior of the 49ers team, with the tight-end chalking up nearly 800 yards and six touchdowns, as well as four touchdowns in the postseason.
Along with the running-back duo in Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, Davis was the go-to-guy for they simply didn't have the threat at wide receiver.
As I said, 2012 could well be the year of change.
We know that Randy Moss is heading to San Francisco, attempting to prove to many that he still has what it takes to compete at the top level.
If he does, Alex Smith has another weapon in his arsenal.
The big question now is whether or not Mario Manningham will also land in San Francisco.
Manningham can make big plays on the football at clutch moments in the game, as I'm sure the 49ers are all too aware of—his touchdown catch late in the NFC Championship and his ridiculous catch along the sideline in the Super Bowl.
In New York, Manningham wasn't even considered in the top two receivers.
In San Francisco, Manningham could become the number one, depending on whether Crabtree's efficiency improves and whether Moss can get it all going again.
Both Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have an excellent eye for talent, and you can be sure that they'll seriously consider making the Giants Super Bowl hero one of their own for next season.
The only question is—just how good will the 49ers be?
We know their defense is incredible and we know that Frank Gore leads one of the most explosive running attacks in the league.
We know that Smith can throw the football if he needs to—for that, look no further than the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round.
What we don't know just yet is whether or not consistency can manifest itself in the 49ers passing attack and if Mario Manningham is the right man to start that process.
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