The San Francisco 49ers have made three straight NFC title game appearances, advancing to the Super Bowl in 2012. It's been an impressive stretch of dominance, one that Doug Farrar believes is coming to an end. "If the Niners drop to .500 this year it wouldn't surprise me," Farrar says, "because in a lot of those key positions you're relying on guys over 30 to stay healthy all year, like a Justin Smith. ... I'm not saying they're going to win five games or anything in an Atlanta Falcons-style dropoff, but I think there are reasons for Niners fans to be concerned."
SI.com’s John DePetro, Chris Burke and Doug Farrar examine that and more in this edition of the Audibles Podcast.
• Can Russell Wilson elevate to the next level in 2014? "I think [Wilson] is further along [than Colin Kaepernick] and I think you can trust him to do a little more," says Chris Burke. "They have enough weapons there that you can push the envelope out of the pocket and add some more on to his plate as a passer."
• Intriguing late-round picks? "Kevin Norwood, the receiver from Alabama, a fourth-round pick by Seattle," says Doug Farrar. "Seattle had some issues in the red zone, especially with the passing game [last season]. ... Norwood was not prolific [in college] because it was Alabama and they don't throw the ball a lot, but he's a guy who's not really big -- he's not Kelvin Benjamin big -- but I could see him really being an asset in those short-yardage situations, third down, red zone, goal-to-go."
• Player under most pressure in 2014? "For me, it's Sam Bradford," says Chris Burke. "Bradford is a guy who started last year pretty well and went down with the knee injury and is now coming back from that and also has that huge contract this year that left him on the roster bubble -- you weren't even sure St. Louis was going to keep him. ... Everything's in place for the Rams to contend for the next few years, they just need to figure out who is going to be their quarterback. If [Bradford] doesn't get it done this year, I think they're looking elsewhere next year, whether it's in free agency or what looks to be a fairly talented draft class."