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Smith offers bold three-word prediction for 49ers’ 2023 season

Smith offers bold three-word prediction for 49ers’ 2023 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The 49ers again will be a favorite to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LVIII this season. Former San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith believes a talented 49ers squad controls their own destiny.

Smith spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco on the latest episode of “49ers Talk” from the American Century Championship golf tournament at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort where he discussed how he sees the 2023 NFL season playing out for San Francisco.

The 49ers are coming off their second straight NFC Championship Game loss. However, with the addition of Javon Hargrave and Brock Purdy being ahead of schedule, Smith says the “sky’s the limit” for coach Kyle Shanahan and Co.

“This time of year, everybody’s talking about Super Bowls and playoffs, and it’s so easy for them to get back to the NFC Championship game is hard,” Smith told Maiocco. “That’s so much work that goes into that and so many things that have to go right. So it’s hard to get back to. So I think this idea that you’re just going to magically be back there is also not realistic.

“You got to win your division. That’s the clearest path to get into the dance. There are two more wild cards, so it’s a little easier if you don’t. But it certainly starts there. And I think that’s obviously very achievable for them. It’s not easy t but achievable.

“And yeah, again, a lot of things you got to stay healthy. Timing and things with your schedule got to play into that. But I think it starts there. And again, that’s the expectation I know for them, and certainly that for me as an outsider.”

While the 49ers boast one of the top rosters in the league and Smith sees the 49ers as contenders, ESPN’s Louis Riddick has some doubt over San Francisco’s chance to win the NFC West at least.

The NFL analyst cites the uncertainty under center for predicting the Seattle Seahawks to win the division this season.

“I love [49ers coach] Kyle Shanahan as much as anybody, but … we don’t know who the quarterback’s going to be for them,” Riddick said on “The Rich Eisen Show.”

“And we don’t know how it’s going to work out. People still believe no matter what Geno Smith did last year, it’s like, ‘Well, it’s Geno Smith. A broken clock can be right twice a day. He just got lucky last year, it just worked out for him.’ They don’t believe!”

Nonetheless, the 49ers under Shanahan have shown they can improvise at the quarterback position and still be contenders. This season they might have to do it again if Purdy is not available for Week 1.

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