San Francisco 49ers: Wish List for the New Year
With the 2012 season nearly behind us, 2013 is nearly here. And with every January in the new year, playoff football captivates millions of viewers in millions of locations.
Since new years bring new beginnings, fresh starts, new anticipation and new hope, there is no reason why the beginning of a new NFL football season can't inspire those same aspirations among teams and their fans.
This list looks at four things that would please the San Francisco 49ers and their fanbase in 2013. And since a new stadium is already on the way, the focus is all on the football field.
So dream big, 49er fans. Here is the 2013 wishlist for all San Francisco fans.
Win Super Bowl XLVII
The San Francisco 49ers will be one of the six NFC teams competing for the coveted spot in Super Bowl XLVII this February. Luckily for San Francisco, they have some unfinished business to attend to this postseason.
The 49ers shocked everybody but themselves when they defeated the New Orleans Saints in such dramatic fashion in the 2011 Divisional Round. They then lost an overtime heartbreaker to New York in the NFC Championship, coming within a score of the big game.
Well the 2012 49ers are in great position to take over where the 2011 squad left off.
The 49ers are still alive for the No. 2 seed and a first round bye in the NFC. That situation will take care of itself and should not be the main concern for San Francisco at this point.
Their defense is as stellar as ever, with Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis and Donte Whitner leading a phenomenally talented group. The offense has found new life in Colin Kaepernick and the ground game is led by Pro Bowler Frank Gore.
With the same core group of talent, plus some key additions, the 49ers have a realistic shot at a Super Bowl title to kick off the new year. They proved they can compete with the big boys by going to Foxborough and taking down Tom Brady's Patriots.
The pieces are there, the chemistry is proven and the coaching is top tier.
All that's left to do is produce on the field for a few Sunday's early in 2013. For all involved with the 49ers, a potential championship is the No. 1 priority.
A New Kicker
The 49ers have certainly appreciated all that David Akers has done for them, but fans are hoping that there isn't much football left in him.
Kickers age like a different breed in the NFL. The Detroit Lions have a 42-year-old kicker in Jason Hanson, and he is outproducing more than half of the kickers in the NFL. Akers is 38 and could pump out a few more seasons, but 49er fans might be a little uneasy about that.
Sure, Akers' 2011 season was arguably the best season ever for an NFL kicker. In 2011 he made 44 of his 52 field goal attempts (84.6 percent.) This season, Akers is 27 of 38 for (71.1 percent). That percentage drop is significant and scary for a kicker.
Akers made a 63-yarder in Week 1 but has been questionable since. He is either uncharacteristically off in 2012 or is aging quicker than he had hoped. If the 49ers are in need of a big January kick, can Akers really be trusted?
This is not a slam on Akers, but his lousy season warrants a replacement in 2013. And if this is a career for Akers, it's been a heck of a ride and maybe, possibly, worthy of Canton.
A.J. Jenkins to Produce
A.J. Jenkins was a 2012 first-round draft pick and through 15 games has been simply invisible. He has zero catches for zero yards for zero impact.
He was supposed to add to a talented receiving corps. He has Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss to learn from, as well as tight end Vernon Davis. However, even with all that talent surrounding him day in and day out, Jenkins has made no impact.
He should get more reps in Week 17 and see an increased role in the playoffs, due to Manningham's injury. However, even if Jenkins tears it up late, his rookie season has been an absolute waste.
With the young Colin Kaepernick taking the reins of the offense, the young Jenkins needs to develop chemistry with his quarterback. His 2012 has been a bust and he needs a strong 2013 to reward San Francisco for the high investment they put in him.
With Moss' 2013 status still unknown, Jenkins' load will increase heading into the 2013 season. The 49ers need to see what they have in Jenkins, and he has to prove to the organization that he can play.
He was a first-round draft pick for a reason and fans are on the edge of their seats to see how Jenkins responds to an increasing role. If all goes well, Jenkins will make an impact for the missing Manningham and earn a larger role going into next year.
Maybe he and Kaepernick could strike up a chemistry like a Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Who knows?
Colin Kaepernick to Become the Franchise Quarterback
The San Francisco 49ers last franchise quarterback was Steve Young. Sure, they have had some success since his departure. But Jeff Garcia was no franchise player. And apparently Alex Smith won't be either.
Smith either fooled everybody with his 2005-2010 production or with his 2011-2012 seasons. He was a No. 1 draft pick and then stunk up the joint until Jim Harbaugh resurrected his career in 2011. Smith was a score away from the Super Bowl last year and even inked a new deal heading into this year, even after the team pursued Peyton Manning.
However, an injury gave the job to Colin Kaepernick and he has ran with it, literally. Kaepernick can make plays on the ground as well as Robert Griffin III but shows a veteran's composure in the pocket. He is young, extremely athletic and has played well at times since taking over as the starting quarterback.
The only problem is that Kaepernick needs another season to prove his worth. Michael Vick stepped up in 2010 for the Eagles and appeared to be the next great Philly quarterback, but his Week 17 start this season will most likely be his last. Smith was able to convert years of mediocrity into cheers and support, with just one solid season.
Fans and coaches are high on Kaepernick, but he has only had part of one season to show how he can play. The 2013 season will be very important for San Francisco to see what exactly they have in No. 7. He appears to be the real deal and a franchise quarterback, but so did Smith before he went down this season.
One more season of brilliance will be enough for fans to get really excited. One more season of brilliance will put Kaepernick in position to be the franchise quarterback, and he should be able to produce for the 49ers.
However, he will need the 2013 season to prove what he can do week in and week out before fans can anoint him.