Jim Harbaugh brought a toughness to San Francisco that the NFL hasn’t seen in years. He has almost single-handedly slowed the league's movement towards a touch football seven-on-seven league to a game that still admires toughness, running the football and physical defense.
Because the NFL is a copycat league, others have tried to emulate his success. But the ultimate test will come in this year’s playoffs. If Harbaugh and his second-year quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, can buck recent trends, the NFL may just move back to a more balanced game.
Inserting the second-year Nevada alum has not come without controversy and second-guessing. But it was the decision that had to be made. Though Harbaugh is devastatingly stubborn, he recognized he needed someone to stretch the defense.
With deadly accuracy, Kaepernick is the most talented thrower of the football in the league—save maybe one, that being Robert Griffin III (those are the two most accurate deep throwers to come into the NFL in the past seven years).
The result is a more balanced offense in San Francisco which will still ground-and-pound opponents to death. But when the defense is least expecting it, Kaepernick will roll out and throw a bomb down the field.
It’s almost impossible to stop. It’s not fair.
The defense is pretty good, too. It’s a unit that makes up almost half of the NFC Pro Bowl roster, it seems. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman anchor it all. But without Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, the unit might not be as good.
The former’s health and effectiveness is a key to this teams’ playoff success. If he’s healthy, this team can easily make it to New Orleans. If not, it will be a much more difficult task.
Then there is Dashon Goldson on the back end to clean up any mistakes made up front. It is as complete a unit as the NFL has seen since the 2000 Ravens’ defense.
Chances of Making Super Bowl: 3/1