Do you remember Joe Montana to Jerry Rice? Do you remember "The Catch"? Do you remember "Hey, look! There's John Candy"? These were a few of the most iconic moments in San Francisco 49er history, moments that made the franchise one of the most prestigious in the NFL. Lately, the Niners have fallen on hard times, with below-.500 seasons sprinkled in between 2015 and 2018.
Those days are long gone. Now sitting pretty atop the NFC with an unblemished 5-0 record, the Niners are back to making noise. The funny thing is that a good amount of the media attention is focused on Jimmy Garappolo, but it has been the run game and a scary front seven that has made San Francisco a legitimate contender.
Kyle Shanahan's two-back scheme has taken off in the Bay, with San Francisco running the second-most rushing yards per game at 179.8. The Niners have been so efficient at running the ball that they nearly had two 100-yard rushers in their Monday night victory over Cleveland a week ago (Tevin Coleman had 97 rushing yards, while Matt Breida had 114). The front seven has also been a threat, pressuring quarterbacks with a speedy front seven featuring Nick Bosa and DeForest Buckner. Their dominance has translated to an easier time for the secondary, who is only yielding an NFL-best 150.2 passing yards per game.
There are some things to work out for San Francisco, such as the red zone efficiency (46% touchdown rate and the second-most turnovers in the red zone with three) and Garappolo forcing throws from time to time. There's also a tough second half schedule, armed with games against Seattle (twice), Green Bay, and New Orleans. Still, it's nice to see teams like the 49ers and Packers return to prominence, for it makes the NFL much more interesting. The Niners have also set themselves up nicely for a solid postseason run with their hot start.
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