2011 NFL Predictions: Six San Francisco 49ers Primed for Breakout Seasons

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2011 NFL Predictions: Six San Francisco 49ers Primed for Breakout Seasons
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Every NFL team has that short list of players that they expect to step up during the season. The good teams see those expectations fulfilled, while the bad teams are left questioning what went wrong. 

Sometimes, every single player on that list takes the next step. See the 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But more often than not, there is a mixed bag in terms of results. 

As a follower of the San Francisco 49ers, I would conclude that they normally fit in the last category. 

How many times have we expected Alex Smith to take his game to the next level? I can count five times off the top of my head. 

The difference between teams like the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers is the fact that the former sees its young players step up in a big way. The 49ers? Not so much. 

But now we are hopefully beginning a new era of San Francisco 49ers football. An era in which the young core of this talented team steps up and proves themselves worthy of the expectations. 

Because expectations are a funny thing, they leave you yearning for more while fully understanding the worse scenario is a strong possibility.

The expectations of the 2010 San Francisco 49er team was to win the division; they abruptly started the season with five consecutive losses. 

Now the expectations for the 49ers seem a little more grounded. This could have to do with the fact that the media has been fooled in the past and now wants to simmer expectations. 

Either way, in the landscape of professional sports you are always going to have someone throwing out certain expectations.

Well, I will be that "person" today. I am going to take a look at six San Francisco 49ers that I expect to breakout in 2011. 

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