Why San Francisco 49ers, Not Unbeaten Texans or Falcons, are NFL's Best Team
After witnessing the 49ers dismantle the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills by an aggregate score of 79-3 the past two weekends, there's no way anyone can convince me there's a more balanced, dangerous team in the NFL.
The 49ers have been able to impose their will on their opponents in all three phases of the game in every game except their loss to the Minnesota Vikings—a game I view as a minor hiccup. Let's take a look at their dominance in all three.
In the past two weeks, the 49ers offense has been prolific, totaling 1,000 yards. Even more impressive than the total amount of yardage is the fact that 555 of those yards came on the ground.
That doesn't mean Alex Smith hasn't been playing out of his mind, though. For the season, he's thrown for 1,087 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception, completing 94 of 137 attempts (68.6 percent and 7.93 yards per attempt).
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Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis—the team's two primary targets in the passing game—have combined to catch 47 passes for 614 yards and seven touchdowns.
Frank Gore has 432 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Kendall Hunter has pitched in with 201 more yards and one touchdown.
Oh, and don't forget about second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He's the most dangerous Wildcat point man in the NFL, and teams are spending a ton of time preparing for him, albeit to no avail (h/t CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco).
While most folks don't see the 49ers in the same realm of offensive domination as the Falcons or Texans, most people are dead wrong.
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Regardless of how well the 49ers offense has played the past two weeks, the team's success starts and ends with dominant defense.
There isn't a more complete defense in the NFL than the one in San Francisco. Even the team's weak link last year—Dashon Goldson—has started playing with discipline. There isn't a single weak link in this chain.
During the past two games, the 49ers defense has only given up 260 total yards. That's not a bad total for one game, let alone two.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had averaged 233 yards and three touchdowns in his first four games, and the 49ers held him to 126 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.
Which team has the best defense?
On the season, the 49ers are giving up a mere 183.4 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, and opposing runners average only 81.4 yards per game. In total, this team is only allowing teams 264.8 yards per game.
Better still, opposing teams are only averaging 13.6 points per game.
Given the fact that the 49ers are scoring 29.8 points per contest through five games, this defense has a way of causing its opponents to panic early, leading to turnovers (10 on the season so far).
Andy Lee is a special teams immortal.
No punter in the NFL comes close to matching the perfection Lee puts down every single week.
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Whether it be a booming 70-yard gem that flips the field in favor of the 49ers or a 40-yard pooch that lands as softly as if it were being carried by angels, Lee is the best punter in the NFL.
David Akers is also one of the league's best special teamers—his two missed field goals against the Jets notwithstanding.
Akers tied an NFL record when he hit from 63 yards out on September 9, and his performance in 2011 broke Gary Anderson's points record for kickers in a single season.
Call me crazy, but I'd take Jim Harbaugh over Mike Smith or Gary Kubiak 10 times out of 10. The way he got his team to respond to getting smacked upside the head in Minnesota tells me all I need to know about his ability to lead.
Since he joined the team, Harbaugh's 49ers haven't lost two games in a row.
Greg Roman and Vic Fangio—offensive and defensive coordinators for the team—are also phenomenal, and they won't be underrated or under-appreciated by the national media for long.
Brad Seeley's presence as the 49ers' special teams coach only further accentuates the team's excellence in that department, too. He's one of the best in the NFL.
The 49ers are the best team in the NFL.
Which team is the best?
Not only that, but this team is built to dominate in December, January and ultimately in February.
With an ability to pound the rock down any team's throat and a defense that can shut down even the most explosive offenses in the NFL, it's hard to see this team not representing the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII.
Oh, and they have a guy named Smith who is a pretty decent quarterback, too.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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