The San Francisco 49ers two-year rise from the depths of mediocrity is widely attributed to ferocious defense and the dazzling running ability of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
But as the 49ers head to Atlanta favored to beat the Falcons this weekend and advance to their first Super Bowl in 18 years, here's another possibility: Maybe it's that they stretch a lot.
That's not a proposition you'd want to state too loudly in the 49ers locker room. The San Francisco stretching program is something team officials refuse to talk about, ostensibly for competitive reasons. But let's face it: The same 300-pound linemen who quickly brag about how much weight they can bench aren't likely to admit that they can do the splits. That's the province of cheerleaders, isn't it?