The San Francisco 49ers Are Ready to Reach a New Level on Offense
It appears the San Francisco 49ers are now equipped with a record-breaking offense to complement their dominant defense.
That, my friends, is a lethal combination.
Offensively, nothing really changed in their 45-3 destruction of the Buffalo Bills in front of the 49ers Faithful on Sunday, save for the fact that, like we’ve all been waiting for, they simply let it all hang out.
Alex Smith delivered perfectly placed deep balls. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter ran wild. Colin Kaepernick even got in on the action for a second straight week.
When the smoke cleared at Candlestick Park, San Francisco had piled up 621 yards of offense—a franchise record. Not even the 2011 New Orleans Saints, who set the NFL record for total yards in a season, moved the ball that much in a single game.
The 49ers have so many weapons on offense, none of us knew what they were going to do next. Buffalo certainly had no clue.
Never mind that the Bills just happened to be the perfect victim, having just allowed an equal amount of points (45) to the New England Patriots in one half of football as they gave up to the 49ers in 60 minutes. Yeah, Buffalo’s defense has no pulse. But San Francisco’s offense has long been preparing for a coming-out party.
Consider it the perfect storm.
It’s kind of funny now how deep in the past those convincing victories over the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions started to feel after the 49ers' painful 24-13 road loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3. There was little reason to believe it was something they couldn’t absorb and turn into fuel, but it was nonetheless a performance we haven’t had to sit through in quite some time.
Just as the resilient Jim Harbaugh-led 49ers had done previous times before, however, they bounced back with renewed focus and replied by relegating a proud NFL franchise to pee-wee status.
Then, they did it again.
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The Niners have outscored their opponents 79-3 in the last two games. That’s basically 10 points for every 15 minutes of football. And it’s not the defense putting the offense in prime position to score, either, though they've undoubtedly done their part; the offense has piled up exactly 1,000 yards, or 125 yards per quarter, in the last two games.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the offense’s relentless production is exactly how it's going about it.
As you probably know by now, San Francisco became the first team in NFL history to gain 300 yards passing and rushing in the same game. With 310 of the former and 311 of the latter on Sunday, the 49ers offense executed 60 minutes of the most efficient, balanced football we’ve ever seen.
Aside from a Colin Kaepernick fumble and a couple big-play-negating penalties, it was a complete masterpiece.
One that will be replicated next week? Unlikely. But what it does do for this offense, aside from putting the rest of the NFL on notice, is offer a first-hand look at what it is capable of.
When the defense brings its A-game—which is basically every week—and the offense performs like this, the competition just can't keep up.
Cornerbacks and safeties can no longer stack the box to stuff the 49ers running game. Instead, they’re forced to respect the deep pass; something that, before Weeks 4 and 5, the coaching staff had elected not to fully unleash.
Now, they’ll have to respect it more than ever. The 49ers are already piling up a league-high 195.8 rushing yards per game and are on pace for more than 3,100 rushing yards over a 16-game season.
The most rushing first downs Frank Gore has ever accounted for in a season is 68, which happened in 2006. Through five games, he has 25 and is on pace to move the chains 80 times via the ground and pound. Conveniently enough, Gore’s 5.4 yards-per-carry average in 2012 is exactly the average he finished with in that ’06 season in which he rushed for 1,695 yards and earned Second-Team All-Pro honors as a result.
Then you’ve got Kendall Hunter, who is averaging 40 yards per game, and, like Gore, 5.4 yards per carry.
The 49ers are indeed so uniquely balanced that Smith (107) and Kaepernick (106) have nearly identical rushing totals—each averaging well over five yards per carry. Their combined 213 rushing yards are more than any one QB’s total in the NFL not named Robert Griffin III. Yep, that’s more than Cam Newton (209 yds) and even former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson (210) through five games.
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As far as the passing game is concerned, No. 11 is the No. 1 QB in the NFL in passer rating at 108.7. He’s on pace for career highs in passing yards, completion percentage, touchdowns, rushing yards and more.
Best of all, he’s thrown just one interception.
Randy Moss hasn’t made the electrifying impact some had hoped for, but believe me, his presence has been felt by opponents. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman likes to send him out wide on run downs to draw defenders out of the box, and it still works.
Michael Crabtree had a 100-yard day on Sunday, along with TE Vernon Davis. The two have combined for 47 catches, 614 yards and five touchdowns on the year.
The offensive line has been a powerhouse, especially in the run game. Its ability to get to the second level and open a crease for the running backs is a sight to behold. Former offensive tackle Alex Boone has stepped into the right-guard slot and performed like he’s been there for years.
Third-year right tackle Anthony Davis is having a career year, while left tackle Joe Staley, left guard Mike Iupati and center Jonathan Goodwin are all currently playing Pro Bowl-caliber football.
According to Pro Football Focus, the 49ers have the best offense in football. PFF grades them out with a score that’s twice as high as any other NFL offense.
Better than any statistic or grade, though, is the fact that the 49ers are atop the NFC West, albeit in a tie with the 4-1 Cardinals. Point is, all the Niners have to do is take care of their business, stay out of everyone else’s (except on game day) and follow the Forty Niner Way.
Now that the offense is fully aware of its capability to perform as an elite unit, the sky truly is the limit.
Just as All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis likes to say (per CSN Bay Area), "It's always about trying to reach a new level."
Add Brandon on Twitter: @B_Burnett49er
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