The 49ers are 2-0? It's almost too good to be true. Reflecting upon the last two weeks, there are a lot of reasons for why the 49ers find themselves in a commanding position as they embark upon a tough-as-nails schedule.
This afternoon's game against Seattle offered one obvious explanation for their success: Frank Gore. But even No. 21's heroics would not have meant much in previous seasons, where San Francisco routinely squandered great performances and under-served their star running back.
Here are—in this writer's opinion—the five major reasons for the 49ers early success...
Mike Singletary promised discipline from his first moments as a coach last year, when he memorably kicked Vernon Davis out of a game. That same work ethic is still holding strong. In a game of inches, the avoidance of stupid mistakes can be all the difference.
The reason the 49ers are 2-0 right now, is because they displayed far more discipline than Arizona in Week One, and that discrepancy in penalties turned the game in their direction.
They made a few more mistakes against Seattle, though the most critical one took place on a kick return, and from my vantage point, was a highly questionable call.
If Mike Singletary can continue to control the players on his team, expect to gain a much needed 20-30 yard edge on opponents throughout the year.
Knock on wood. Perhaps this is good luck, or maybe it is a result of the 49ers having a young team. Either way, they are playing in a geriatric division, where the biggest stars are also some of the oldest and most brittle.
It also appears that God hath plagued the Seahawks with one misfortune after another. This doesn't fully explain the victory today over Seattle, but it more or less put a nail in the Seahawks' coffin with plenty of time on the clock.
3. The 3-4 Defense
What more can you ask for? We've got three young linebackers starting for us, as well as a reinvigorated veteran standout. One of them—Patrick Willis—is arguably the most impressive ILB in the entire NFL.
Our head coach knows how to mentor them, because he is one of the Top 5 LB's of the modern era. They continuously pull through on 3rd downs, holding their last two opponents to a combined eight conversions.
And they are sandwiched between a D-Line and a Secondary that have both exceeded expectations so far.
Let's face it. This is damn exciting.
4. Attitude, Morale, and Fight
This one may seem corny, but it is real, and it is palpable.
How many times did Mike Nolan try to "turn the team around" with a half-hearted speech in the 4th quarter?
When Singletary speaks to his men, the fans know that it will result in a turnaround.
The week after the O-Line humiliated itself, contributing to Frank Gore's least productive performance as a 49er, what happens? They respond with a massive first half. Sure, there's still room for improvement, and the fans have every reason to believe that next week will be a step up from this one.
5. Vernon Davis, Nate Clements Being Who We Thought They Were
Nate Clements was a high-priced free agent. Vernon Davis was an early First Round draft pick.
But the way they've played to date, you might not believe it.
While neither of them were 'busts' up until this season, they both fell short of the sky-high expectations that fans harbored.
Now, we are finally seeing that potential being realized.
Seattle and Arizona are both passing teams, and Clements was key in shutting down their Pro Bowl quarterbacks.
Vernon Davis has always been a great blocker, but as a TE, he has dropped passes and failed in the clutch. In the last two games, though, he has delivered on several critical third downs, one of which fell off the score sheet due to a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Regardless, this is the best that he has ever looked, and we all know who to thank for turning the diva around.
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