The San Francisco 49ers stand at 5-2 atop the best division in football in the NFC West. Yes, you read that right.
The NFC West has had a stunning turnaround after being the laughing stock of the NFL for the last five years.
However, in the NFL, three years is like a millennium. Teams adapt, improve and move on. It's one of the many reasons why the NFL stands alone atop American sports.
The Arizona Cardinals and many of their NFC West counterparts have taken a hard fall in the last few years, but everything seems to be looking up.
No team in the NFC West has a losing record, with the exception of the St. Louis Rams (3-4).
The 49ers opened up the floodgates with their successful 13-3 campaign in 2011, and they continue their success this season with a solid start.
Here are the most-improved and least-improved 49ers in the 2012 campaign thus far.
Anthony Davis has had a Pro Bowl season in 2012, and if his play keeps up, the 49ers may consider moving him to left tackle in the future.
Davis, alongside the little-known guard Alex Boone, have formed a hellacious right side for the 49ers.
With Joe Staley and star guard Mike Iupati holding down the left side, the 49ers may very well have the best offensive line in football.
This is a bit surprising, considering the inconsistencies of this line last season. However, all five guys seem more consistent and comfortable.
At times, Davis can still struggle with pass protection, but there is no doubt in my mind that the third-year pro has made significant progress in this area since coming into the league in 2010.
Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis used to form a dangerous duo at tight end. However, in 2012, Walker is considered an afterthought in the 49ers offense.
In 2011, Walker was phenomenal for the 49ers and became a featured piece on offense alongside Vernon Davis and Frank Gore.
The 49ers used a lot of two-tight-end formations in 2011, but they have gone away from that a bit this season. More weapons at receiver may be the cause.
At this point in the season, Walker has recorded five catches for a meager 50 yards receiving. He did, however, have the only touchdown in the 49ers' most recent win against the Seattle Seahawks last Thursday.
With Walker slated to be a free agent after this season, the 49ers will likely pass on re-signing the seven-year pro.
Numbers don't lie. Hunter is averaging a yard more per attempt in 2012 (5.2) than in 2011 (4.2).
Frank Gore is the heart and soul of this 49ers offense, but Hunter has proven to be one of the best backups in the league.
The 49ers have stuck to their 2011 identity of running the football; however, this offense has become much more efficient at doing so.
According to Football Outsiders, the 49ers are ranked fifth in offensive efficiency. This is due in large part to their two-headed monster at running back in Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter.
Chris Culliver is becoming the best cover corner for the 49ers despite not officially starting.
Both Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are listed ahead of Culliver on the depth chart, but make no mistake, the second-year pro is having a top-notch season.
Culliver has had some consistency issues, but when he shows up, which has been the case for most of the 2012 season, he can dominate opposing receivers.
Physically speaking, the 49ers have no other corner that can match up with the bigger receivers in the league.
Culliver did a nice job playing Calvin Johnson for most of the game in the 49ers victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 2, and he's done stellar job thus far in 2012.
He will eventually take over a starting spot from Rogers or Brown. But Rogers has been playing more slot lately, so playing time hasn't been an issue for Culliver.
Akers has completed 13 of his 18 attempts (good for 72 percent) in the 2012 season. In comparison, Akers missed only eight field goals in his record-breaking 2011 season.
This isn't a serious issue for the 49ers, at least not right now. But if Akers continues to struggle towards the playoffs, the 49ers may take action.
Akers seems healthy enough, but with NFL kickers, it's all about the mental aspect. With the way the 49ers have been playing on offense recently, Akers must pick it up.