Nancy Gay reported via fanhouse.com that Craig, who was at Infineon Raceway to act as the Grand Marshal for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sprint Cup final this weekend, strongly projects the 49ers to make the playoffs in 2010.
"The 49ers will be a playoff team this season. I'm making that prediction," said Craig.
"They were 8-8 last season. You saw what happened...They should have beaten Minnesota, they should have beaten the Colts, they should have beaten the Texans, they should have beaten Seattle...so that's 12-4 right there. Those four games could have changed the season around. They were that close. I think they're going to be very strong contenders this year."
It's not a secret that the 49ers are the odds-on favorite to win the NFC West in 2010, and Craig revealed his optimism before the draft in my 2010 Draft article: Roger Craig Talks Niners, Draft and Fishing.
"If we beat the Colts , the Vikings and Seattle , we're 11-5. That's playoff numbers. That's how close we were last year. I think Alex is finally mature enough he knows what he has to do. We don't have to keep reminding him...You're not going to have success at 20 years old being a quarterback in the NFL. It took Joe (Montana) two or three years before he really stepped on the field and it took Steve Young about six or seven years before Joe gave it up...watch Alex do some damage this year."
Now, Craig's faith remains unwavering. "You think about the division—Kurt Warner isn't with Arizona anymore, so they're going to rebuilding, and Anquan Boldin is gone," he explained. "And Pete Carroll is going to have a tough time the first year. He's not going to come out of the gate really dominating the West... So the 49ers are the perfect team to annihilate the NFC West. And they've got the right ingredients right now."
Craig was also pleased with how the draft turned out for the 49ers. "I said they should draft linemen and they drafted the biggest guys on the planet! And then they drafted Taylor Mays, another steal of the draft. I can't wait until he plays against Seattle, because I know his horns will be out and he'll be ready to take some heads off."
A lot of people are predicting that the San Francisco 49ers make the playoffs this year. Ask the Faithful, and their half-pints are on the way to the top.
From laymen to legends, the improvement in the 49ers team is obvious—a symptom of a team returning to championship contention.
And the franchise hasn't known expectations like this—since the golden years.
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