NFL 2011: There’s a New Sherriff in Town

Posted: December 21, 2011 by Dan Condie in San Francisco
Tags: , , , , , ,
Alex Smith, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers

Image via Wikipedia

The San Francisco 49ers have 2 weeks remaining in their historic turn-around season.

The 49ers have suffered from about a decade of coaching musical chairs, horrendous offensive lines, and weak QB consistency.

Enter Jim Harbaurgh.

Instantly, the vibe in San Francisco changed from despair to hope.

Within a matter of weeks, the 49ers established themselves as the top contender in the NFC West and have not left an inch of space for refute since.

Sure, there have been hiccups along the way, with losses to Dallas, Baltimore and Arizona but, overall, the Niners have torn a path of defensive destruction and offensive reliability. The losses were by an average of just 5 points.

San Francisco has the league’s #1 rush defense and have not allowed a rushing touchdown all season (the rest of the NFL teams have allowed at least 6). Their offense is also one of the leagues best at efficiently protecting the football, which is reflected in their +25 turnover ratio.

QB Alex Smith has contributed greatly to the success of the team as well, holding one of the league’s lowest interception ratios (second only to Aaron Rodgers, who seems pretty good).

Smith’s ability to control the game and lead the offense is due in part to the massive improvement of the offensive line. The Niners have made strengthening the line a matter of focus the last couple seasons and is now showing results, both in Smith’s play and in RB Frank Gore‘s.

San Francisco boasts the league’s 9th best rushing attack and special teams play second to none. David Akers is the league’s highest scoring place kicker and punter Andy Lee has the second highest average punt distance at 50.4 (#1 averages 50.5).

Throw this all together with a successful coach that genuinely loves the game and is his players’ number one supporter, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for W’s.

The most advantageous aspect of it all, is that the Niners are one of the leagues youngest teams on both sides of the ball (3rd youngest defense and 6th youngest offense).

We could be seeing the next generation of 49er dominance.

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