The San Francisco 49ers are the last remaining team in the NFL with a perfect record this season (now that the Patriots have fallen). Jimmy Garoppolo and company have proven that they’re the real deal, especially after that game against the Arizona Cardinals last week. Coach Kyle Shanahan has his team in near perfect form and the new NFL Power Rankings reflect that. Actually, you don’t have to click that link – spoiler – the 49ers are number one!
That means Super Bowl hopes are still intact across the nation. Of course, the 49ers still have a tough (um, brutal) schedule ahead of them for the remaining second-half of the season. Let’s talk about the highlights of this team as well as the challenges facing them going forward…
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Jimmy is Lookin’ Good!
If we weren’t already convinced that this QB is a star, Garoppolo sure played like one against the Cardinals. The 28-year-old is fully recovered from the knee injury that ended his season (and with it, the 49ers’ season) in 2018. Last Thursday night, he completed 28 of 37 passes for 317 yards and no interceptions. Garoppolo also spread the ball around, connecting with nine different receivers. The man had four touchdown passes with a passer rating of 136.9, both of which were career highs.
Fans knew Garoppolo could be good, but that was probably his best game ever… and he just seems to keep improving. Hey, this is a good time in the season for playing your finest! Of course, he needs to stay on form as they head toward those tougher teams and, eventually, the postseason.
According to star 49ers player Jerry Rice, “They’re going to continue winning. They’re going to win the whole thing. I picked them from Day 1. Jimmy G’s going to get them to the promised land.”
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And They’ve Got a Great Defense
Kyle Shanahan has a great defense under his belt to bolster his Garoppolo-led offense. Some might even call them an elite defense. And that’s with lots of injuries and backups playing for the past several weeks. The good news is that Pro Bowler left tackle Joe Staley looks like he’s set to be back in action against Seattle after recovering from an injury he sustained in Week 2. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey and fullback Kyle Juszczyk have also begun practicing with the team again. And cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon should be back soon, if not Monday.
Tackles Daniel Brunskill and Justin Skule along with cornerback Emmanuel Moseley have stepped up to keep the defense strong and the team undefeated through these past several games. And Shanahan has used tight ends as blockers to make up the difference as well.
Unfortunately, it’s not all great news on the other side of the ball. Linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his pectoral muscle in the 49ers’ win against the Cardinals and he’ll be placed on the IR list for the rest of the season. They’re calling up Elijah Lee to take his place. We’ll see if Alexander’s absence has any effect on this impressive defense in the weeks to come…
Challenges Facing the 49ers
We’ve already mentioned that the second half of the 49ers’ season is looking a heck of a lot tougher than the first. And we’re not lying. They might be 8-0, but the teams they’ve played thus far this season kind of, well, suck. With the exception of the Carolina Panthers and the Los Angeles Rams, every team on their schedule has had a losing record. To put into perspective just how bad the competition was, the teams they’ve played have a current cumulative record of 22-43-1. So perhaps this winning record halfway through the season isn’t a whole lot to brag about.
Of course, the same could be said for the Patriots’ weak schedule through Week 8, but no one is doubting them, right?
Going forward, however, six of the next eight teams that the 49ers will face have winning records, and four of those have seven or more wins. Whoa. And yes, they’ve still gotta play the Patriots too. It won’t be easy.
And to play devil’s advocate on the whole amazing QB situation, we’ve got to remember that Garoppolo only has 18 career NFL starts. As it stands, he’s got a career record of 16-2, but without him, this team was awful. Like worst-in-the-league awful. Defense alone can’t win games. Stephen A. Smith reminded everybody of Garoppolo’s stats too. Like the fact that he’s got 15 career interceptions, boasts only a 67% completion rate, and that the Cardinals game was his first with 300+ yards since 2017. Stephen A. calls that average. So… you decide.
The 49ers’ first real test will come against the Seahawks on Monday night. And if you haven’t been following, Russell Wilson is looking pretty phenomenal these days. But if the 49ers can hold their own, all this Super Bowl contender talk might be getting even louder.