One week into the regular season and the San Francisco 49ers already look as if they are poised to emulate the same kind of success they enjoyed one year ago.
Following the 49ers' 34-28 win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, fans and analysts both learned new things and were reassured of others.
All of the hype surrounding San Francisco has come to the forefront of the NFL. There are reasons why so many experts have been touting the 49ers as early favorites to win the Super Bowl this year. Many of those reasons were revealed in Week 1.
The running game, led by veteran Pro Bowler Frank Gore, should continue to be a factor in San Francisco's offense. While rushing for only 44 yards and a touchdown last Sunday, it would be foolish to discount his value.
The defense, long part of the 49ers' recent success, had its moments. Starting off against a high-flying and potent offense like that of Green Bay was a good test. Rookie safety Eric Reid looked sharp and both Aldon Smith and Justin Smith appeared to be right on track.
Then there was the Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin connection.
Kaepernick to Boldin should be something that 49ers fans get used to in the coming weeks. Boldin was amazing, leading all receivers with 13 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown. Vernon Davis also got into the mix and it is reassuring that he will likely be a major factor in the offensive game.
All of these signs, and others, bode well for the 49ers' prospects for a Super Bowl contending season.
However, the season is a long one. With only one game in the books, it is impossible to entirely predict what happens moving forward.
The 49ers will face a tough schedule in 2013. Opening up at home against Green Bay was no exception.
Out of the 13 different teams San Francisco will face this year, five are coming off playoff appearances. It is worth noting that the 49ers will have to face last season's surprise-story, the Seattle Seahawks, twice—a team that many feel has the best shot to thwart San Francisco's reign in the NFC West.
San Francisco's schedule will also be made tougher by the fact that two teams in particular—the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—made considerable moves during the offseason and should be considered viable opponents.
An interesting question will be how the trip to London in Week 8 to face the Jacksonville Jaguars will affect the team? Granted, San Francisco will enjoy a bye the following week, but the trip needs to be mentioned.
A tough schedule can actually provide a bonus to teams having expectations no shorter than a Super Bowl championship. In many ways, a tough schedule is something that should help prepare the 49ers for the long road that lies ahead.
It is also worth noting that Sports Illustrated's 2013 NFL predictions do not list San Francisco winning the Super Bowl, let alone winning the division.
After Week 1 however, those predictions may deserve some rethinking.
Regardless, here is an in-depth examination and prediction of the individual matchups the 49ers will have following Week 1 and continuing until the end of the regular season.