San Francisco 49ers: 49ers Win the NFC West If These 5 Have Great Years

Eli NachmanyCorrespondent IIIJune 5, 2011

San Francisco 49ers: 49ers Win the NFC West If These 5 Have Great Years

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    The 49ers">San Francisco 49ers may not be the best team in the NFL, but in a weak NFC West, the team certainly has a chance for a playoff berth.

    If the team wants to win, though, it needs five guys to step up and have great seasons next year.

    The team has question marks at many positions, but certainly there are capable players on this roster.

    Now, here are the five guys who must have great 2011s for the 49ers to win.

Nate Clements

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    Nate Clements had a run-of-the-mill season in 2010, posting 82 tackles with three interceptions and playing generally okay in the secondary.

    Clements needs to be better, though, if the 49ers want to win the NFC West—San Francisco needs stability in the secondary.

    The veteran cornerback deserves to be the No. 1 guy next year, but he needs to constantly prove himself with good games.

    If Clements can shut down opposing receivers well, the rest of the defense's job will become much easier.

Michael Crabtree

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    Ever since the 49ers used a high draft pick on Michael Crabtree, fans and team brass have been expecting his big breakout year.

    Crabtree needs to finally have his monster season this year, and with the raw tools and skill set to do so, there is no reason why 2011 can't be Crabtree's year.

    The 49ers need Crabtree to blossom into a player that defensive coordinators game-plan against, and the Texas Tech product is fully capable of becoming that player this year.

    The wideout has had his growing seasons, and it's now time for him to step into the role that the 49ers envisioned him stepping into when he was drafted.

Jim Harbaugh

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    Jim Harbaugh is fresh off of a dream season at Stanford in which he and quarterback Andrew Luck set the world on fire.

    Harbaugh needs to carry his success into San Francisco and be a good motivator and personnel guy for the 49ers.

    The rookie head coach has shown the ability to win, and he needs to guide his team to wins in 2011 for the 49ers to succeed.

    If Harbaugh comes in and doesn't communicate well with his players, the 49ers won't contend.

Alex Smith

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    Alex Smith has been labeled everything from a "bust" to a "serviceable starter," and to quote Eminem, "Will the real (Alex Smith) please stand up?"

    The 49ers have Colin Kaepernick waiting in the wings, but after running a gimmick offense at Nevada, the former Wolf Pack quarterback won't be ready this year.

    This leaves Alex Smith as the only viable option at quarterback on the roster, and Smith has shown flashes of talent here and there.

    Now, the former No. 1 overall pick needs to put it all together and have a productive 2011 for the 49ers to have playoff hopes.

Mike Iupati

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    Last year, Mike Iupati played like a top-10 guard in just his rookie season, and he needs to continue to improve.

    Iupati can become a true anchor on this 49er offensive line, but he needs to be consistent and willing to get better.

    The young guard is an impressive talent, with great work ethic and a non-stop motor—he will work to be a top guard in this league.

    Teams like the Saints have proved that good interior linemen can give a quarterback as much time as good tackles can, and Iupati needs to become "the guy" along the line for San Francisco.