In hindsight and in the big picture, the 49ers have accomplished a lot since Jim Harbaugh arrived as head coach. Three straight NFC Championship Game appearances, including an appearance in the Super Bowl, is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s hard enough for a team to continue that kind of successful consistency but the 49ers have done that.
However, in all three seasons, the 49ers were good enough to go to the Super Bowl and win. They are that good of a football team and can only get better. At least that’s what it appears for this team.
But as this 2013 season has come to an end, the 49ers have a lot of decisions to make in order to return to the playoffs and finish off what they started. They have injuries (NaVorro Bowman, Mike Iupati) that they have to monitor this offseason. They have key free agents like Donte Whitner and Anquan Boldin that they have to figure out if they can keep.
Can this team be this good and maintain all this kind of success? How much longer can they hold on to this core before they have to restart all over again?
With the team they have now and what the 49ers could have by the time training camp rolls around will still be a good team. The core is still intact but a few players will leave. A few new players will join and who knows how the draft will unfold. But one thing is for certain: the 49ers have the talent to make a run back at the Lombardi trophy.
But how much longer can they wait? Will this upcoming season be their final chance? Key players like Frank Gore and Vernon Davis are getting up there in age and you can’t predict how much more productive years they can give to the team. Despite the success from Colin Kaepernick, he’s still a young quarterback trying to find his niche in the game.
There’s a lot of uncertainties going into the offseason and some may wonder if the 49ers can make one more run at it.
Their window isn’t closing, per se. They’re still considered a top team in the NFL and will absolutely be in the mix next season. But what if they don’t win it in 2014? Can they do it in 2015? Those questions have to be answered.
Sure, it gets harder and harder every year to get back to the playoffs and make a serious run at the Super Bowl. That’s what the 49ers have in front of them. I wouldn’t say that their window is closing because they can still be a good team for a few more years. But the missed opportunities in the past three years will hard to ignore going into training camp.
It’s a lot of what ifs and what could have beens. Welcome to another offseason following a heartbreaking loss. They still can get back to the playoffs. But did they already miss out on their best chance to win it all? We’ll wait and see as the 2014 season comes along for them.