SANTA CLARA — The 49ers are one of the most talented teams in the NFL — with eight Pro Bowl players to prove it.
But even the best teams have a weakness, and if you had to pick one for the Niners, what would it be?
It wouldn't be the quarterback — not after Alex Smith's run for a touchdown against New Orleans and then his throw to beat the Saints in Saturday's playoff game.
At this point in the season, the most likely candidate for the 49ers' Achilles heel might be the wide receivers.
That lineup includes Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Brett Swain and Joe Hastings. (Joshua Morgan was a key member of this group, but he broke his ankle and he's out until next season).
Here's a glimpse at how the season has gone so far for the WRs:
Braylon Edwards was supposed to be a key member, but he hurt his knee on the first series of the second game, couldn't get healthy and was cut. Hastings, his replacement, has yet to catch a pass in the NFL.
The Niners replaced Morgan with Swain. Swain has caught one pass for the Niners this season, eight total in his three-year career.
Williams is a quick second-year player, but at 5-foot-10 he's on the short side for a WR.
He's caught just 23 passes in his career.
Ted Ginn Jr. is the fastest player on the team, but the coaches haven't developed him into a deep threat. His main function on offense comes on fly sweeps, i.e. on running plays. Plus, he's more of a special-teams player and he's been hurt recently. He missed two games at the end of the regular season with an ankle sprain and he had to leave the Saints game with a kneecap injury.
Then there's Michael Crabtree — the No.1 receiver on the team.
He can be very good — he caught the crucial 41-yard pass in the fourth quarter in Seattle in Week 16. It was a catch that helped the Niners win the game and secure a No. 2 seed in the playoffs. He also caught two TD passes the week after that in St. Louis.