Monday, October 10, 2011

49ers Surprising the NFL With 4-1 Start

After the 49ers upset the Eagles last Sunday, I got that feeling you get when you know your watching something decent come together. It reminds me of the way I felt about the SF Giants at the end of 2009 when they had these young players come up and dominate and they looked well on their way to greatness in 2010.

After pulling out the big victory over Vick, LeSean McCoy and the "Dream Team", which is looking much more like the "In Your Dream Team" if your an Eagle fan or player, and doing so in convincing fashion, it showed me the 49ers not only can manage their way to a win, but they can go out late and take a close game. That's something I hadn't seen since Jeff Garcia was throwing to T.O. Not only did they build off that win over Philly, theyimproved on it, and laid down the biggest 49ers beating that I can remember by manhandling the then 3-1 Tampa Bay Bucs, and cruising to a 48-3 victory. It was like a top ranked national powerhouse college team taking on a Sacramento State or something like that, it must have been painful to watch if you were a Buc fan, but more importantly, a long overdue laugher for the 49ers side. If you would have thrown a Drew Brees shirt onto Alex Smith yesterday, I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart, that's how on the kid was this Sunday. He only threw for 170 yards on 11-19 passing, but tossed 3 TD's, two of which landed in the hands of his go-to guy, Vernon Davis. Smith didn't need to throw the ball 30+ times because the 49ers had control of it from the get go while Frank Gore and Kendal Hunter had no trouble at all finding running lanes. Gore (20-125/1 TD) and Hunter (9-65) combined for 190 rush yards and the 49ers could have probably ran on just about ever play after the half and would have came out just fine.

The offense was clicking on all cylinders, but once again, this underrated offense did it's thing and shined in a big way. Again, these Bucs were 3-1 coming in and had taken down some decent football teams, but they were clueless vs. Niners at Candlestick. Whatever football insider that said Carlos Rogers cannon catch footballs better be checking himself right now, cause Rogers has turned into a game-changer in the 49er secondary and is doing exactly what they paid Nate Clements so much money to fail at. Rogers is off to an all-pro start with 13 tackles and 3 picks through 5 games, including a TD and 7 PD's. He's by far been the biggest payoff off all defensive free agents the 49ers obtained this summer, and I pushed for this team to add him once Asomugha was off the market. Also continuing to improve is rookie pass-rush specialist Aldon Smith, who added another pair of sacks to raise his total to 4 in 5 weeks. He's on pace for 12.5 sacks and it's been a while since a 49er defender hit that high of a mark. Navaro Bowman and Pat Willis also locked down the middle of the field, like they've been so darn good at through 5 games. Bowman must have taken to Willis because this guy has turned into Pat Willis Jr. and and is one of the better tacklers in the league already.

Fans were questioning some of the moves this team made early on after the lockout, like letting Takeo Spikes walk, and getting started a lot slower than the rest of the NFL was in terms of player movement, but it's certainly starting to look like Trent Baalke and Jim Harbough had an idea of what they were doing after all. There's still a long, long way to go, but in this division, after taking down two solid teams like Philly and Tampa in consecutive weeks, 49er faithful can't help but have some optimism towards this 2011 bunch.

Oh by the way, Alex Smith in 2011: 104 QBrat., 66% Comp, 965 yards, 7/1 TD-INT ratio through 5 weeks. Again, who knows how long this continues, but right now, it has him ranked 3rd in the NFL behind Brady and Rogers.


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