It happens every single season some team starts off blistering hot and demolishing teams early and then begin to fade away. In 2018 it was Miami when they started 4-2 and ended up 7-9, in 2017 it was Seattle, starting 5-2, and ending the season losing 3 of their last 4 games. Then some teams start off on a slow burner and then throughout the year, catch fire and start picking up the speed – giving them momentum to carry them on throughout the season into the playoffs. It oftentimes takes many games to figure out what direction a team is going to go down. Are they going to start off hot and fade away like an old childhood story – or they going to pick it up through the season and show the rest of the league where they’re standing?
This season the San Francisco 49ers has been a great example of how the process works, during the first half of games, the Niners have struggled to execute tightly with their aerial game – and almost seeming to have a one trick pony aura about them but have put up an impressive 9-1 record along the way. San Francisco definitely has some questions on the passing end – ranking just 15th in passing yards in the NFL overall. And they are currently putting up just 237/game in the air – they haven’t exactly lit up teams through the airwaves. And their D has oddly struggled with stopping RBs – giving up 4.7 YPC to opponents, and have had their issues with defensive penalties as well. What that team does with that is on the head coach – Kyle Shanahan – he has to make sure he makes the adjustments to get the players all on the same page.
But, they have also certainly had their fair share of defensive highlight reel plays with the rejuvenated vet, Richard Sherman, and rookie star, Nick Bosa, blowing teams away with their tough aggressive play. Looking back over the first half – the Niners have played just a few of even decent defensive teams in the Los Angeles Rams & the Pittsburgh Steelers – which makes many wonder – just how good is this team? Could they flip off the road and crash and burn – or can they make the playoffs on the back of their tough defensive play? How will they respond to the pressure that’s mounting for their shoulders?
Now – as of late, Jimmy Garoppolo and Emmanuel Sanders have been clicking pretty nicely, the 28 year old QB has been getting into a smooth rhythm with his newly added WR, and brings immediate deserved attention from DBs. Garoppolo throwing 11 TDs in the 4 weeks as to when Sanders was added – to the 7 TDs he threw in the previous 6 weeks without him. Their immediate connection has been a massive difference maker for them, as Garoppolo has had some of his highest completion games of the season since he came aboard. And that is something that teams will need to pay attention to – because they are cruising along, just under the radar – continuing to pile up wins.
Both San Fran and Seattle sit at the top side in the division – these 2 won’t battle again until week 17 and each one has their share of big games down the stretch. We have to give San Francisco a very legit chance to hoist that Lombardi trophy come February – as long as their defense keeps doing what they do – and if their QB keeps developing along the way – they have a serious shot.
Do not count this San Francisco team out.