Jim Harbaugh Can Start New San Francisco 49ers Dynasty
And every week the answer is the same—"Nooooo-body!"
For the most part, the 49ers are correct. They sit at 7-1 with the second-best record in football, behind only the 8-0 Green Bay Packers. San Francisco has won six straight contests and could have had a perfect record at this point if not for their fourth-quarter meltdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.
The 49ers are rugged, tough, smart and display an intensity that San Francisco fans haven't seen in years. And it's thanks in large part to Harbaugh, a rookie coach from Stanford who was expected to be a good hire—but not quite this good.
Of course, regular-season dominance isn't the goal. The 49ers haven't made the playoffs since 2002 and haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1994. In order to truly become a very successful coach for the 49ers, Harbaugh needs to lead his team to the promised land.
Can Jim Harbaugh start a new San Francisco dynasty? Let's take a look at all the reasons why it's possible.
49ers Can and Have Beaten Good Teams
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
They also beat two teams fighting for wild-card positioning when they upset the Eagles 24-23 in Philadelphia in Week 3 and then demolished Tampa Bay 48-3 at home in Week 4.
Great teams need to be able to beat other great teams, and so far in their matchups against teams with records above .500, San Francisco is a perfect 2-0. They'll have more shots at taking down big-name squads later this season.
San Francisco Won't Let Up on the Intensity
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Perhaps one of the better things about the 49ers this season is they don't need to look pretty in order to win.
Most great teams—with Green Bay and New England topping the list—need their offense to shine in order to pull off victories. For San Francisco, they manage to win without racking up any major statistical categories.
"They're not looking for statistics like tackles, interceptions, sacks," Harbaugh said after the 49ers' somewhat-ugly 19-11 win over the Redskins on Sunday. "They know that helps us win, but they are doing the unselfish little things. When a tackle is made, it's a team tackle."
"Seven and one means we've got a chance to be 8-1," said quarterback Alex Smith. "All that matters is the 'W.' We're not into the style points or anything like that."
The team has completely adopted Harbaugh's way of thinking—intensity, not statistic, is what's most import in getting a win. Harbaugh has been a fantastic motivator and has kept his team focused.
Don't expect the 49ers to slow down, because Harbaugh won't let them.
Defense Wins Championships
Leon Halip/Getty Images
There was some concern that under Harbaugh, who was known more for his offensive prowess, the San Francisco defense might take a slight step backwards.
So far that hasn't been the case whatsoever. San Francisco has given up the fewest amount of points so far this season, giving up just an average of 14.8 points a contest.
All of the keys to San Francisco's defense, including star linebacker Patrick Willis, have bought into Harbaugh's game plans completely.
And luckily for San Francisco, the defense is likely to stay near the top for the next few seasons barring injuries. All of the key components are signed for long-term deals, and new cornerback Carlos Rogers, brought in from the Redskins in the offseason, says he already wants to talk about an extension with the 49ers.
The old saying is defense wins championships, and San Francisco has one hell of a defense.
Harbaugh Is Turning Duds into Studs
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Fans were ready to give Alex Smith up years ago. Now he's one of the league's most consistent quarterbacks and the toast of the town.
Carlos Rogers was a castoff from the Redskins and his signing was greeted with little more than murmurs from the Niners Nation. Now he's the team's best secondary weapon.
Navvarro Bowman was a promising linebacker but the loss of Takeo Spikes was supposed to really hurt the San Francisco defense. Now Bowman is first on the team in sacks and his coaches have a difficult time telling him and Willis apart.
On draft day 2011, San Francisco passed on a collection of quarterbacks in order to draft Aldon Smith, who has potential as a pass-rusher but was expected to take awhile to develop. Now he leads the team with 6.5 sacks on the season.
Harbaugh has not only been a strong motivator, but he's been able to turn multiple players written off by fans or experts and turn them into exceptionally capable players.
The Future Looks Bright
Dave Reginek/Getty Images
San Francisco has three games left on the schedule—home against the Giants on Week 9, in Baltimore on Thanksgiving for Week 12 and home against Pittsburgh on Week 15—against championship-caliber squads.
The rest of the 49ers' matchups are against their NFC West counterparts, who wouldn't equal the Niners' win total even if you added all their victories up.
Unless San Francisco experiences a self-destruction of titanic magnitude, they'll be going to the playoffs and most likely will have home-field advantage against anyone but Green Bay.
This is a position that not even the most optimistic 49ers fans would have predicted. And it's thanks in large part to the intensity and determination brought in by Jim Harbaugh and his staff.
And this is just season one of the Harbaugh Show.