SF 49ers: Is Offense Good Enough to Lead the Way to a Super Bowl Win?

Baily Deeter@@deetersportsSenior Writer IIINovember 8, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 29:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers gets a laugh from Field Judge Jim Quirk during an NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Last year, the San Francisco 49ers managed to win an offensive shootout in the playoffs.

However, if that scenario were to come up again in a postseason game, Niners fans would not feel confident about the daunting situation.

Everyone was raving about San Francisco's all-around talent following two wins over potent Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers teams, in which the defense shined and the offense averaged 28.5 points per game. Alex Smith was taking more shots down field and he was protecting the ball too.

Oh, and that Gore guy was doing a nice job too.

Frank Gore is still doing well and Smith has been doing a relatively good job in ball protection, utilizing his biggest strength to some effect. However, the offense hasn't been performing like it was earlier in the season and the defense has let up a bit too.

Christian Ponder and the Minnesota Vikings torched them in Week 3 for a shocking victory. Ahmad Bradshaw and the New York Giants defense did the same in Week 6, while Seattle's polarizing pass rush gobbled Smith up in Week 7 (although San Francisco racked up a crucial win there).

The 49ers haven't exactly had the toughest schedule, as the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Lions and Vikings are far from elite. The  Seattle Seahawks and Packers are talented (and Green Bay may still be elite), while the Giants are definitely elite.

So, it's definitely concerning that the Niners haven't coasted through most of these games like we thought they would. Buffalo, Arizona and New York presented no challenges, as the 49ers displayed how talented they can be.

But the problem is that they have been inconsistent.

Alex Smith threw for a meager 200 yards and got intercepted three times by the Giants, a team that allowed an average of 30.5 PPG to Tampa Bay and Cleveland, who are manned by Josh Freeman and Brandon Weeden.

People were very happy and optimistic about the 49ers when they beat a seemingly unbeatable Packers team coming off back-to-back 14-win seasons (including the playoffs). But Green Bay and Detroit have both looked weak, making San Francisco's one-score wins over Green Bay and Detroit much less impressive.

Green Bay barely beat Jacksonville and they are only 6-3, so it's hard to classify them as elite. Therefore, the 49ers haven't competed with an elite team yet this year.

The  Chicago Bears await them on Monday Night Football on November 19. Chicago's tenacious defense should present a challenge to an offense looking to make a name for themselves on national television.

Last time the Niners were on Monday Night Football, Smith had one of his best games ever. And the 49ers scored just 24 points.

San Francisco's defense has pummeled low-scoring offenses like Seattle and Arizona. However, against offenses in the top half of the league in yards, the 49ers have surrendered about 23 points per game. Including the New Orleans game last year, since San Francisco has pretty much the same defense, the total jumps to 24.6 PPG.

That is definitely a cause for concern, since the defense has been somewhat inconsistent. They looked lazy and tired when Minnesota used long drives to best them and the same goes for when Eli Manning and the Giants shredded him.

Obviously, teams like Buffalo and New York (Jets) won't be in the playoffs.

The 49ers have schooled them. But against Seattle, New York and Green Bay, the 49ers have averaged 15.3 PPG. Basically, they haven't done very well against good teams.

That, combined with Smith's struggles and some inconsistency with the defense, leaves me and other 49ers fans with a reason to fret about the team.