San Francisco 49ers: Crunching Some Ridiculous Numbers
I don't normally do slideshows when covering the San Francisco 49ers on Bleacher Report, but this type of article definitely needed a few different pages in order to avoid mass confusion or mass hysteria, depending on the way you look at it.
Confusion from opposing defenses and offenses. Hysteria from opponents that actually have to gameplan for the 49ers.
Today's article is going to do a bit of number crunching as it relates to this 4-1 team about one-third of the way through the 2012 season.
Getting the Obvious out of the Way
The following is a list of accomplishments as they relate to the San Francisco 49ers' performance against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. While some of these have been written about ad nauseum over the course of the last 48 hours, I will delve a bit further in.
* San Francisco set a franchise record with 621 total yards.
* Became the first team in NFL history to put up at least 300 rushing and 300 passing yards in the same game.
* Scored touchdowns on their final five possessions. If you discount the Colin Kaepernick fumble, it is plausible that the 49ers could have scored touchdowns in their final seven possessions.
* They racked up 621 yards on just 29 first downs. For those of you who didn't major in math, that equates to about 22 yards for every first down.
* Alex Smith's near-perfect quarterback rating of 156.2 was the best for a 49ers starting quarterback in the regular season since Joe Montana recorded a 158.3 rating in an identical 45-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in 1989.
* San Francisco had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and two receivers record triple-digit yards for the first time since John Brodie, C.R. Roberts, Aaron Thomas and R.C. Owens accomplished the same feat in a 1961 game against the Chicago Bears.
* In their Super Bowl-winning 1994 season, San Francisco outscored the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a combined 83-19 score in consecutive games. That pales in comparison to the combined 79-3 score that San Francisco has defeated its last two opponents by.
The only two-game stretch in recent franchise history that even compares is when the 1987 49ers outscored three consecutive opponents by a combined 124-7 clip.
Great on Offense
The San Francisco 49ers rank third in the NFL in points per game at just under 30. They are tied with the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans in that category behind only the New England Patriots and their Week 6 opponent, the New York Giants.
Surprisingly, the 49ers offense did finish a robust 11th in scoring last season. However, it must be noted that they went about if a much different way. Their defense gave Alex Smith and company some pretty friendly short fields upon which to work. I guess you could say it was a very quiet 23.8 points per outing.
2012 has been a bit different. The 49ers are only one of seven teams that have averaged over 400 yards per game during the first five weeks of the season. In total, they rank seventh in that category, right behind the New Orleans Saints. Who would have thought that? This is nearly a whole 100 yards more than San Francisco gained on average last season.
Even if you take away San Francisco's performance against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, it is averaging about 370 yards in their other three wins. In short, it wasn't a one-week wonder for this offense.
While it only ranks 27th in passing yards, San Francisco is definitely taking advantage of opposing defenses when it does put it up in the air. It ranks sixth in the NFL at about eight yards per attempt. More importantly, San Francisco's passing game is yielding a tremendous amount of first downs.
A total of 42 percent of Smith's passes have gone for first downs, which ranks the 49ers second in the NFL behind the Atlanta Falcons.
The Running Game
San Francisco is the best running team in the NFL, and it really isn't even that close. It is averaging nearly 196 yards on the ground per outing, going for an average of 223 in their four wins.
The 49ers are also averaging 6.1 yards per attempt, nearly a full yard higher than their closest competitor, the Kansas City Chiefs, and are on pace to shatter the NFL record for yards per attempt.
Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith have all rushed for over 100 yards through the first five games. Gore and Hunter are on pace for 2,000 combined yards on the ground. Overall, the 49ers are on pace to put up over 3,100 yards on the ground this season.
Those numbers are simply astonishing.
Better on Defense
You don't give up three total points in two consecutive games without being a dominating unit. What San Francisco has done during the early part of the season is simply amazing.
It ranks No. 1 in the NFL in points against at under 14 points a pop. To put this into perspective, outside of the 49ers' games, these first five opponents are averaging 27 per game.
San Francisco ranks in the top 10 against the rush (81.4) and is second against the pass at (181.2). While many of us expected the 49ers to dominate opposing offenses against the run, their success against the pass has come as somewhat of a surprise. After all, they were in the middle of the pack against the pass last season at 230.9 per game.
In what has been a continuing theme for this defense, opposing quarterbacks possess a 76.2 quarterback rating against the 49ers. Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined for an alarmingly low 46.3 rating over the course of the last two games.
Only 31 percent of opposing completions have gone for first downs. This seems to indicate that when a pass is completed, the 49ers defense is hawking to the ball and making tackles immediately. That is called fundamentally-sound football.
Following the New York Giants game, San Francisco goes up against three NFC West opponents that leave a whole lot to be desired on the offensive side of the ball. You can definitely expect these numbers to improve even more prior to their mid-November matchup against the Chicago Bears.
Individual Players: What They Are on Pace For?
Let's just get down to brass tax here. We are about one-third of the way through the 2012 NFL regular season. At this point, it is possible to get a feel for where each player stands and what their statistics may look like at the end of the year.
Alex Smith: 68.6 completion percentage, 3,478 passing yards, 342 rushing yards, 3,820 total yards, 26 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 108.7 quarterback rating.
Frank Gore: 1,382 rushing yards, 5.4 average and 13 touchdowns.
Kendall Hunter: 643 rushing yards, 5.4 average and three touchdowns.
Michael Crabtree: 86 receptions, 995 yards and three touchdowns.
Vernon Davis: 64 receptions, 970 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Mario Manningham: 61 receptions, 595 receiving yards, 778 total yards and three touchdowns.
The San Francisco 49ers have not had a 1,000-yard receiver since Terrell Owens went for 1,102 in 2003. There is a strong chance that they could actually have two players, Crabtree and Davis, eclipse that total in 2012.
Smith's eight-to-one touchdown to interception ratio is obviously tops in the NFL this season, as is his quarterback rating. For those of you wondering, Steve Young holds the franchise record for the best single-season quarterback rating with 112.8 in 1994. Joe Montana is second on that list with a 112.4 rating in 1989.
The common denominator there? San Francisco won the Super Bowl both seasons. Smith is on pace to finish directly below Montana and Young in 2012.
What It Means
The San Francisco 49ers are quite simply the most dominating football team in the NFL right now. It really doesn't matter who they did it against either. They suited up and destroyed two NFL teams in consecutive weeks, pretty much forcing the opponent to give up each time.
Once you break the will of another opponent, a couple of things happen. First, there becomes an understanding around the league that you are just damn good in nearly every aspect of the game. Secondly, confidence grows that you can do that on a consistent basis moving forward.
I don't want any 49ers player reading this article. Look what happened to them when they just didn't show up against what is a suddenly good Minnesota Vikings team. As a writer, I can definitely look at these numbers and be in awe. As players, they just need to keep the proverbial pedal to the metal.
San Francisco will be going up against the defending champs at home for the third time in less than a calendar year in a rematch of January's NFC Championship Game. While the 49ers do open up as clear favorites against the New York Giants, this is an opponent that will give the home-standing team a real challenge.
Let's see how the 49ers handle what has been one of the most successful two-week runs in franchise history.
Follow me on Twitter @vincentfranknfl for more insight.