The San Francisco 49ers may be the most surprising team in this young NFL season. The once-proud franchise has been in a drought of losing for quite some time now, but this may be their year for a break through. Even though the season is only two weeks in, the 49ers are already 2-0 and atop the NFC West with their strong wins over division rivals Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. Every season there is one team that comes out of nowhere and makes the playoffs, and I have a feeling that this year it will be the 49ers.
Although other teams are 2-0 and playing above expectations, the 49ers are really the only 2-0 team that was looked over in the preseason that has been dominant over its opponents so far. The Jets have also been surprising but they at least had a winning record and a shot at the playoffs last year, while the 49ers finished below .500. So if you are one of those people looking to root for the surprise team of the year, look no further than Candlestick Park and pick the 49ers bandwagon to hop on. If their history doesn’t entice you, then here are 10 reasons why you should jump on the 49ers bandwagon.
The 49ers defense has been amazing so far this year. They are 5th in points allowed per game at 13 pts/game, 9th in yards allowed per game and 3rd in rush yards allowed per game. The stout defense of the 49ers held the high scoring Arizona Cardinals to only 16 points as well as also slowing down the solid Seattle Seahawks offense to 10 points, after they scored 28 points in a week one win versus the St.Louis Rams. The 49ers defense looks promising for the first time in years, with playmakers at every aspect of defense; the secondary, linebackers and the pass rush. With the talent they have and the way the defense is playing as a unit, don’t be surprised if they finish in the top 10 in overall defense when the year is over.
2. Coach Mike Singletary
What is there not to love about coach Singletary? He’s not afraid to eject the teams’ prima donna (Vernon Davis) from the game or pull down his pants in the locker room and show his backside to send a message. Sure, he’s a little extreme, but his fiery ways have worked so far. He demands respect from his players and they give it to him, which is already more than Mike Nolan accomplished when he coached the 49ers. It’s evident that Coach Singletary’s fieriness and discipline have rubbed off on the team when you watch them play. The team competes and fights on every play, just like Singletary used to do when he played linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Besides his fieriness, Singletary knows the game football as well as anybody. An example of this was in week one when the Arizona Cardinals were driving on the tired 49ers defense for a score. Singletary sensed that his defense needed a breather and some inspiration, so he called a timeout and gave his defense a break as well as some inspiration. Whatever he said or did worked because the 49ers held the Cardinals to a field goal on the drive. The next time the 49ers got the ball, they scored the winning touchdown. Singletary knows how to coach and he knows how to win; he’s shown that much so far.
3. 2-0 record overall and in the division
Even though it’s early, every win counts. Getting off to a good start is important even though the season is long. By winning two games against division rivals to start off the season, the 49ers put themselves in a good position to win the division. The 49ers are the only 2-0 team in the division and they play the struggling Rams in two weeks. They should be able to beat them and go 3-0 in the division. With that division record, it would be a huge disappointment if they didn’t finish on top. The real test for the 49ers will be this week when they play the Vikings, but if they can beat them, they should be able to compete against anybody.
4. Frank Gore
Frank Gore is the centerpiece of the offense and he looks ready to carry them all year long, if he can stay healthy of course. Even though he struggled in week one, rushing for only 30 yards, he still managed to score two touchdowns. But this past week against the Seahawks, Gore proved that the Cardinals game was a fluke. Gore exploded for 207 yards on only 16 carried, while also rushing for two 75-yard plus touchdowns. He showed burst and break away speed that I didn’t even know he had. The success of the offense depends on Gore. If he stays healthy and performs, then the 49ers are a dangerous team, but if he gets hurt, then they look mediocre.
5. Patrick Willis
Young Ray Lewis, as I like to call him, is arguably the best linebacker in the league. In only the third season of his career, Willis has been dominant since day one. Willis is really one of the most exciting and fun players to watch in the league. He is there on every tackle and he flies all over the field. His speed, reactions and hard hitting ability are what make him so great. He is the leader of the defense and a pro bowl player.
6. Nate Clements
The 49ers’ number one shutdown cornerback has been solid so far this year after being criticized by coach Singletary for being beat too much. Besides his smooth style of play, Clements is emotional and plays with a ton of passion. He is a crowd pleaser who will do anything to get the fans out of their seats. His tackling skills are some of the best for a cornerback, as he routinely helps in stopping the run with his up-ending, leg-hitting tackles. He even returns kick sometimes.
7. Shaun Hill Just Wins.
Shaun Hill is about 100-3 when he starts games for the 49ers. Okay, it’s more like 10-3 but the point is, he wins and he gets the job done. His game might not be the prettiest, but he somehow pulls off wins. Watching him will make you want to pull your hair out, but just remember that if the game is close, he will win it.
8. Solid Offensive Line
The offensive line is finally starting to develop into a pretty solid group. And the great part is that the linemen are all pretty young, meaning they will still get better. They are opening holes for the running game and allowing Gore to burst big runs. Every good team has a good offensive line and I believe the 49ers finally have one. One area they can improve in, however, is pass protection, as Hill has been sacked too much so far.
9. The Faithful are back
The 49ers fans are finally back to their rowdy and passionate ways. Without a good team to cheer for in years, the slightest taste of success is making the 49ers fans show their love for the team again. On opening day last weekend for the Seahawks, the stadium was loud and enthusiastic. There was red everywhere and people were standing for most of the game. This is what the fans have always been like and it’s good to see them back to this way.
10. The 49ers will make the playoffs
I’m going to go out on a limb and say the 49ers will finish 10-6 and win the division, sending them back to the playoffs for the first time in over five years. There is something about this team that screams out “winners” and I think Singletary will lead this team back to the playoffs in his first year as head coach.