While the San Francisco 49ers have their sights set on playing in a second consecutive Super Bowl next season, the franchise was presented with a rare but obtainable goal for later down the road on Tuesday.
According to NFL Network, NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl L—the league's 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl—to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2016. The city beat out South Florida to host the iconic Super Bowl, which will be held in the 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara, California.
As currently constructed, the young, talented 49ers should have an opportunity to become the first NFL team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Of course, it's impossible to look three years into the NFL future and determine whether or not the 49ers will still have the elite roster they currently possess. Predicting the league year by year is difficult enough; attempting to pin down what will happen three years down the road might require Nostradamus.
However, nothing about how the 49ers have been built in recent years suggests they will not be in the running for a Super Bowl in 2016. In fact, it's much harder to envision the franchise going south than continuing on as a contender.
From the staff to the front office to the roster, San Francisco is well prepared for longevity.
The 49ers are led by 49-year-old head coach Jim Harbaugh, who holds a 24-7-1 regular season record with three playoff wins in just two seasons at the NFL level. He was named the Coach of the Year in 2011 and could have won it again last season.
Harbaugh has won early in his NFL coaching career in large part to the roster provided to him by general manager Trent Baalke.
The 49ers have a promising young quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, who took the NFL by storm in 2012 and nearly won a Super Bowl during his first season as a starter. He appears to be the ideal running-and-throwing hybrid that is defining the future at the position.
The rest of the offense is littered with young talent, between the league's best (and one of its youngest) offensive lines, tight end Vernon Davis, running backs LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore and a deep and talented receiving corps.
While San Francisco figures to be competitive on offense for the foreseeable future, the defense possesses just as much, if not more, talent.
Inside linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis represent the best young duo the NFL has seen in some time, while 2011 first-round pick Aldon Smith flirted with 20 sacks in 2012. The 49ers also added a first-round safety in Eric Reid to an already talented and hard-hitting secondary.
In between their Super Bowl loss and the 2013 NFL draft, we broke down how the 49ers became such a talented franchise. The same holds true today. The 49ers are built to win on both sides of the ball—both now and in the future.
Barring unforeseen structural changes in the front office and coaching staff or regression from the talent in key positions on the field, the 49ers appear capable of being among the NFL contenders for the long haul.
If the franchise can continue its winning culture for the next several years, the 2016 season could be a special one for the San Francisco Bay Area.
As of the 2013 season, no team in the history of the Super Bowl has played the biggest game in their home stadium.
There's no tangible way to say whether or not the 49ers will become the first to do so three years from now, but all evidence in 2013 points to San Francisco having that opportunity.
Thankfully for this bunch of talented 49ers, the Super Bowl worth worrying about right now is the one taking place in New Jersey this coming February.