Why 49ers are Super Bowl favorites

San Francisco's overall strengths make it 'matchup-proof'

Updated: January 16, 2014, 3:32 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

NinersJeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsThe 49ers are well-known for their defense, including a vastly improved secondary.

The ability to adapt effectively to a variety of matchup strengths is always a plus in the NFL playoffs, but given the eclectic state of the current crop of Super Bowl contenders, that trait may be more useful than ever. Each of the four remaining teams has a different combination of powerful traits that make them difficult to game plan for, and the eventual Super Bowl winner is going to have to find a way to effectively deal with this.

Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers might not look at first glance like the leading remaining team in the area of adaptability, but the metrics and game-tape analysis indicate this group is by far the best equipped to successfully adjust its approach to whatever type of personnel challenge comes its way. This is the type of edge that makes the 49ers the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII.

This advantage shows up in San Francisco's superb balance across the statistical spectrum and when looking at each potential matchup battle they may have to deal with on their potential Super Bowl path.