Are The San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl Bound?
When the 2011 NFL season started, the only way that you’d predict that the San Francisco 49ers would be sitting atop the NFC West with a 9-1 record at this point is if you were a delusional fan who could care less about reality. Well, the truth has smacked us all in the face. With yet another dominant performance against the Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers are clearly the second best team in the NFL, behind only the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
It’s one of those runs where you keep waiting for the clock to strike midnight and the Niners’ carriage to turn back into a pumpkin. However, it hasn’t come close to happening yet. Outside of allowing the Dallas Cowboys to make a shocking comeback, the Niners have been dominant this season thanks to their outstanding defense. With Alex Smith under center, a powerful running game, and a staunch defense, the Niners are eerily reminiscent of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens that ended up winning the Super Bowl with an average QB (Trent Dilfer), a mean running game (Jamal Lewis), and a menacing defense that suffocated any offense put in front of them.
So does this mean the Niners are legitimate Super Bowl contenders?
Outside of the super-charged Green Bay Packers, the Niners don’t have much to worry about in the NFC thanks to their ball control scheme on offense and smothering defense. It’s tough to compare them to the Ravens defense that only gave up 165 points all season long (this year’s Niners have given up 145); but they are just one of those smashmouth teams that others would hate to play on any given Sunday. They force turnovers, run the ball down your throat, and Alex Smith has finally figured out how to limit his mistakes while maximizing his opportunities. If Frank Gore can stay healthy, you can forget about it.
The Saints, Lions, Bears, Giants, and Cowboys are all threats, but none have been consistent enough to throw a monkey wrench in the Niners’ unlikely playoff plans. The only team that stands in their way is Green Bay and that monster known as Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball.
But can a high powered defense nullify a high powered offense? History tells us yes. But we’ll have to wait and see how much longer the Niners can sustain this torrid run.