They have been called the surprise team of the 2011 NFL season. They have a lock on the NFC West title, and now it’s just a matter of time to determine if they host one, perhaps two, playoff games in January.
This from a team many "experts" said would finish third in their division. The San Francisco 49ers have established themselves among the league’s elite. Credit the defense, credit the coaching and credit the front office for this vast improvement.
With a 7-1 record, the Niners face the second half of the season with five more games against NFC West opponents. But tough games loom on the schedule, including this Sunday’s home contest against the New York Giants. Then, another visit to the East Coast for a game in Baltimore versus the Ravens, followed by a December visit by the Pittsburgh Steelers, at least at this point, will provide compelling matchups that should reveal just how good the 49ers really are.
That said, with an eye to the stats and their rank, here’s a report card of the 49ers midway through the 2011 season.