It's been right in front of you the whole time......the New York Football Giants, won the superbowl with a 9-7 record.
Look at who they lost to in the regular season:
Barely beat the Patriots
And with the exception of the Saints they beat all those teams in the playoff run.
So...worst case scenario, we lose most of our marquee matchup games but still come in strong into the playoffs and kick ass.
More realistically i think the 49ers kick some ass in the regular season:
Giants - revenge pure and simple
Saints - we will beat you at YOUR HOUSE (tired of the asterisk placed by our victory)
Packers - long time rival, perceived best team in league, etc.
I think these 3 games will receive maximum 49er effort no matter what the situation.
Patriots and Lions we can beat, but if there has to be a letdown game or one where we're not 100% there, maybe it's these two.
We can get a full realistic assessment of where we stand. This past season we only got to see ourselves against Detroit, Giants, Ravens, and Steelers (winning 3 of 4...not bad).
Next year, we get the maximum NFC schedule pretty much (except Chicago), and the freakin Patriots.