Are the San Francisco 49ers Favorites to Win the Super Bowl?
This was purely a let-down game. While the Vikings have shown that they're better than advertised, the Niners should not have to answer questions about their status as an elite team.
Jim Harbaugh will right the ship. It's one game and nothing more.
However, doubters will again point to the deficiencies of Alex Smith and the Niners offense, and this is to be expected.
I predicted the Niners to go 12-4, and surprisingly, their first loss came at the hands of quarterback Christian Ponder and Minnesota Vikings.
Unexpected? Yes. Is this still a championship-caliber team? Absolutely.
Here are three reasons why.
Defense, Defense, Defense
In this league, defense doesn't win championships. Maybe the 49ers will change that notion.
Despite the underwhelming performance by the 49ers defense against the Vikings, this is still one of the most consistent units in the league.
They have overwhelming depth at almost every position and a improved secondary, though Christian Ponder sure didn't notice after his performance on Sunday.
This is a championship-caliber defense, and I doubt any other NFL team can say the same.
Jim Harbaugh and Niners Coaching Staff
The 49ers have the best coaching staff in the league.
Yes, I know of a guy name Bill Belichick. Several other candidates come to mind, but none compare to what Jim Harbaugh has done and will continue to do in San Francisco.
It just doesn't stop with Jim Harbaugh. You have defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who has done a masterful job with this defense.
How about offense coordinator Greg Roman, who had several head coaching interviews after the 49ers' 13-3 regular-season finish in 2011.
Many tend to forget Roman's impact on not only Alex Smith, but this 49ers run game. His creativity and intuition has played a large part in the 49ers' resurgence.
Brad Seely anyone? The special teams head coach has had a brilliant career.
This hire has brought nothing but good fortunes for the special teams unit who sent both kicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee to the Pro Bowl last season.
And last but not least is defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. By far, Tomsula is the most underappreciated assistant coach in the league.
Remember, Tomsula was with the previous head coaching staffs of Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan.
When Harbaugh was brought in, the newly minted head coach couldn't lose a character like Tomsula, who has helped form the best front seven in football.
Alex Smith can be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. This was a laughable statement just last year, but Smith has shown he is more than capable.
The recent loss to the Vikings still stings, and Smith sure didn't help after making a crucial turnover to halt the Niners' chances at a comeback, but look at the bigger picture.
The guy threw his first interception since Thanksgiving of last season. This is a new Alex Smith.
In years past, after a bad game, Alex Smith would have likely continued on a downward spiral, but don't expect that to occur in the 49ers' Week 4 matchup against the New York Jets.
He will bounce back, and once again continue to prove how instrumental he is to the Niners' championship hopes.
In Alex we trust. That's what the 49ers organization and fans should still be thinking.