San Francisco 49ers: Assessing ESPN's 2012 Win Projections
The reputable mad scientist-looking scribe predicted the 49ers winning 10 games. ESPN NFC West blogger Mike Sando essentially agreed with this projection.
Sando astutely notes that of the 61 teams that won at least 13 games between 1978 and 2010, a mere eight percent (five teams) produced an identical record the following year.
In other words, winning that many games in consecutive seasons just ain’t easy.
Opponents will highlight their game against the 49ers as the marquee matchup. Injuries occur, players regress and statistics show that win totals will drop.
So why would I disagree with Clayton and Sando’s projections? Because a three-win drop is far too great. I’ll go no lower than 11.
The San Francisco 49ers have vastly improved on offense, notably at wide receiver and running back. Only their recently adjusted offensive line (with Alex Boone inserted at right guard) can be scrutinized on this side of the ball.
Moreover, the Niners have retained all 11 defensive starters and added depth through the draft and free agency. They ranked as a top unit in 2012, including No. 1 in rushing defense and helping to contribute to an NFL-best plus-28 in turnover differential.
Their elite special teams unit returns as well. A full offseason and continuity with the playbook doesn’t hurt either.
How many wins do you predict for the 49ers in 2012?
Despite historical statistics and an entirely more difficult schedule working against my better inclinations, I predict Jim Harbaugh—the ultimate motivator himself—and his squad to go 12-4 in 2012. I have tentative losses against New Orleans and New England, and one each against division rivals Seattle and Arizona.
Can the Red and Gold defeat all of those teams? Of course. Will they? Probably not.
The NFL is simply too unpredictable with the existence of those one or two games that shock respective fanbases. The 49ers will lose to a couple of great teams, as well as a couple that are technically inferior on paper. There might even be one more shocker.
However, I’ll stick to my guns at 12 wins this season. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you side with the folks at ESPN, yours truly or somewhere in between?
Let me know in the survey question and comments section below.
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