When Bruce Arians received the news this past weekend that he’d been voted the NFL’s Coach of the Year, one of his reactions was to promise a super season in 2015.
When Super Bowl 50 kicks off at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7, 2016, Arians said his Arizona Cardinals will be the NFC’s representative, playing on the 49ers’ home field.
“We’re dressing in their locker room,” Arians told a writer for his team’s website. “We can write it down today.”
Maybe Arians has a point. The Cardinals, after all, have been making big improvements since he became head coach.
But in odds already posted in Las Vegas, the Cardinals are listed as 40-1 to win the Super Bowl – behind the 49ers who are listed as 25-1 to win the big game on their home field.
The Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, are listed as the NFL favorites to win at Levi’s next February, at 13-2. The other NFC West team, the St. Louis Rams, is right there with Arizona at 40-1.
So, even though the 49ers are in seeming disarray – limping home with an 8-8 record, no playoff appearance, their proven head coach Jim Harbaugh fired and multiple questions hanging over new coach Jim Tomsula, his staff and a veteran roster with many players headed to free agency – oddsmakers still rank the 49ers in the upper echelon of the NFL in terms of potential for 2015.
Only four NFC teams – the Seahawks, Packers (10-1), Cowboys and Eagles (both 20-1) -- have been given better odds than the Niners. And only two AFC teams have better odds, the Patriots (8-1) and Broncos (10-1).
Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana said this weekend that there is still much to be determined about the makeup of his former team this offseason. But he’s convinced the 49ers will be in the hunt for the next Super Bowl.
“This offseason is going to determine what happens, you know, how many guys stick around, how many guys leave,” the Hall of Famer said in a television interview. “Even if they left it the way it is, I think they still are (contenders). They are very, very talented on both sides of the ball.”