Super Bowl XLVII pits the 49ers vs. Ravens in what should be an exciting contest of two evenly matched teams. The game features the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim, in a rematch from Thanksgiving, 2011.
In the 2011 game, Baltimore beat San Francisco 16-6, but the 49ers are now a much different and improved team. The 49ers have a stronger offensive line and a more dynamic quarterback in Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick is the biggest change for the 49ers. Although he is still only 25 years old, he appears to have the confidence and ability to lead the 49ers to the promised land.
Kaepernick came through under adverse situations against the Packers and Falcons in the NFC playoffs, to lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl. He is only making his tenth NFL start, but he has shown no signs of nervousness or insecurity during the postseason.
Kaepernick gives the 49ers the constant threat of a running quarterback and also has a strong, accurate arm. His ability to get the ball deep down the field has also opened up the 49ers' rushing attack.
The Pistol offense, now frequently utilized by the 49ers, will give the Ravens problems. The Pistol is difficult to prepare for and most teams have trouble the first couple of times they see it. The offense relies on speed, which is not the strong suit of the Baltimore defense.
Frank Gore leads the San Francisco ground attack and Michael Crabtree has become a top-flight wide receiver this year. The 49ers also have a better overall attack with Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Randy Moss and LaMichael James providing more speed and big-play potential.
Defensively, the 49ers are still very strong, with Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith leading the way. This is a veteran unit and are well-coached by defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
It is premature to call the 49ers the NFL's next great dynasty, because this group hasn't won anything yet. However, if the 49ers capture this title, they do have the potential to become worthy of the term "dynasty."
For any team to be considered a dynasty, they must win multiple championships in a short period of time. The 49ers with Joe Montana and Steve Young were a true dynasty, having won the Super Bowl five times.
This 49er team is young enough to win multiple titles, with most of their stars still considered young veterans.
Only six core players, Frank Gore, Jonathan Goodwin, Donte Whitner, Carlos Rogers, Isaac Sopoaga and Justin Smith have passed the so-called prime years of their career. These players are still playing at a very high level and could continue to do so for a couple more years.
The 49ers have all the makings of a dynasty, with good coaching on top of a strong nucleus of talent. However, before we pronounce them as the next great team, let's see if they can even win this first one.