In a welcome change, the San Francisco 49ers will enter the 2011 regular season without the heavy burden of overinflated expectations.
These past few summers the 49ers have been more overrated than Mila Kunis, a sexy sleeper pick despite no recent history of actual success.
Because of all the hype, it was tough for even the most jaded fan, myself included, not to get their hopes up in August, only to have them crushed by mid-October.
This year things are different. San Francisco has been mentioned far more as a candidate for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes than the Super Bowl.
Unlike their predecessors, who made bold predictions about success, Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke have done a fantastic job of lowering expectations.
The failed to sign any big-name free agents, got rid of half-a-dozen starters on defense and brought in two quarterbacks who have combined for zero NFL starts to back up the much maligned Alex Smith.
Throw in a couple of dismal preseason performances and you’d have to be a fool to expect San Francisco to be a Super Bowl contender.
Fortunately, the 49ers still play in the worst division in football, so while a championship remains a pipe dream, the postseason is a real possibility.
As recent sports history—and three Mighty Ducks movies—have proven, the underdog remains a premier position from which to achieve success.
Here are five steps the 49ers need to take this season to enjoy a Andrew Dice Clay-like return to prominence in 2011.