NEW YORK (AP) — Comments on the San Francisco 49ers by the AP Pro32 panel (ranking in parentheses):
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (4)
Chris Berman (ESPN, 5) — After all, 49ers could have easily been in Super Bowl.
Clifton Brown (Sporting News, 7) — Adding Randy Moss looks sexy — this team needs more big plays. It'll be hard for superb defense to carry 49ers to Super Bowl.
Cris Collinsworth (NBC Sports, 5) — A fumble away from Super Bowl. 49ers are dominating team in weak division.
Rich Gannon (CBS Sports/SiriusXM NFL Radio, 4) — I believe in Alex Smith ... there I said it!
Bob Glauber (Newsday, 5) — Class of NFC West, which means another divisional title. But keep this tidbit in mind: Teams that improve dramatically from one year to the next — as Niners did — come back to pack following season.
Rick Gosselin (Dallas Morning News, 4) — Alex Smith, Jim Harbaugh and America curious to see what Randy Moss has left in tank.
Clark Judge (CBSSports.com, 4) — Defense returns intact; makes 49ers automatic Super Bowl contender.
Ira Kaufman (Tampa Tribune, 4) — When you can run and play defense like Jim Harbaugh's marauders, expectations should run rampant from San Jose to Sausalito.
Pat Kirwan (SiriusXM NFL Radio/CBSSports.com, 4) — Niners don't beat themselves. Alex Smith ready for small jump in passing game especially with new weapons. Can they beat elite teams is another question. Sitting down with Alex Smith on my camp tour gave me great insight into where this offense is headed in 2012 and it will be better than 2011.
John Lynch (Fox Sports, 4) — Team legit, has real shot this year. Dominant defense with 11 starters returning. Harbaugh-led offense benefits from full offseason; more confident Alex Smith and some explosion (Randy Moss) to help Vernon Davis.
Alex Marvez (Foxsports.com, 5) — Can stake legitimate claim to being NFC's top team if they win in Green Bay.
Dan Pompei (Chicago Tribune, 5) — Team so solid all-around that it's difficult to envision them not being highly competitive.
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL