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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 7:00 PM

The San Francisco 49ers are a relatively young team to be celebrating a Super Bowl championship. That’s true for their head coach, many key players, and certainly a quarterback who didn’t even earn the job until the second half of the 2012 regular season.

Will this team be MORE prone to a Super Bowl letdown than others as a result? Too much partying. Too much hype. Too much confidence that leads to arrogance? Ron Jaworski of ESPN made headlines a few days ago suggesting Colin Kaepernick could end up being one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. How can something like that not go to your head?

Plus…how can a team get fired up to play hard in August and September when they just learned the importance (and rewards) of peaking LATE in a season? The 49ers have been flat in their first two exhibition games of 2013. Their dress rehearsal comes in a prominent prime time TV game on NBC Sunday Night against the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s run the matchup through the key indicator stats we’ve been focusing on this summer. Don’t forget that Minnesota was a playoff team!



Minnesota: 10-6, -1 turnover, #6 ranked schedule

San Francisco: 11-4-1, +9 turnovers, #3 ranked schedule

San Francisco’s record and numbers were hurt a bit by having the wrong quarterback for some of the season. And, they definitely peaked late in a way that saw them play better than 11-4-1 would have suggested. They were a legitimate Super Bowl caliber team once the brackets were set. Minnesota seemed like a fluky playoff qualifier to some. They did post a winning record against a tough schedule. Gotta give them credit for that.


Yards-Per Play

Minnesota: 5.4 on offense, 5.2 on defense

San Francisco: 6.0 on offense, 4.7 on defense

Great numbers here for the Niners. They had a rare combination of great YPP but lousy third down conversions. That meant they were prone to make big plays every so often. Terrific defense. Minnesota showed a possible differential against a tough schedule. Adrian Peterson carried the team on his shoulders. Can he do that for a second year in a row? Can they beat quality opposition that is capable of stopping the run? Good test for the Vikings here to see if they’re capable of climbing the ladder.


Third Down Conversions

Minnesota: 37% on offense, 41% on defense

San Francisco: 35% on offense, 33% on defense

Both offenses struggled on third downs. That’s a sign of quarterback immaturity, plus conservative play-calling. Some coaches are finding that punting is the better part of valor because it reduces the number of high impact turnovers your offense suffers. Room for improvement from both offenses.

The key categories to look at for San Francisco in terms of the Super Bowl letdown:

*Defensive yards per play and per game allowed

*Defensive third down percentage allowed

*Offensive turnovers committed

Pay attention to those areas tonight, and in the opening weeks of the regular season. Flat performances are reflected very clearly in the “concentration” stats.

Oddsmakers opened the number for Sunday Night’s TV game at San Francisco -4.5. That’s been bet down to -3.5 and even -3 because the Wise Guys haven’t been impressed with San Francisco’s intensity thus far. And, if you believe in “The Super Bowl Letdown,” as many old-time sharps do, that would apply to a dress rehearsal game as well as the first month of regular season action.

What does JIM HURLEY think about this game? You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. The best options from Vikings/Niners, Saints/Texans, and baseball are just a few clicks away. If you’re ready to commit to longterm service, you can do that online or by calling the office Monday during normal business hours at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you Monday to get caught up with the MLB pennant races. Some big baseball matchups this week with Cincinnati visiting St. Louis in the National League, and Oakland facing Detroit in a potential ALCS preview in the American League. We’ll have our first COLLEGE FOOTBALL previews later in the week beginning Thursday. The opening week preview schedule in the NOTEBOOK:

Thursday: North Carolina at South Carolina on ESPN

Friday: Texas Tech at SMU on ESPN

Saturday: Georgia at Clemson on ABC

Sunday: Ohio at Louisville on ESPN

Monday: Florida State at Pittsburgh on ESPN


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