LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 6: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers heads off the field after the game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on November 6, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Lately, I've noticed more comments concerned with the 49ers ability to hang around in a high scoring affair. While it is a general subject, much of it centers around the Green Bay Packers prolific offense, which leads all non-bye teams in scoring with 275 points (New Orleans has 287 but also has a bye in week 11). If the 49ers continue on their current path of success, they would likely be looking at a matchup with the Packers and/or the Saints in the playoffs.
When I look at this current 49ers team, I understand the concerns about offensive inconsistency. At the same time, the 49ers are eighth in the NFL in points scored. When you combine this with a defense that is first in the NFL in points allowed, I grow less concerned. The 49ers could find themselves in a sticky situation in the event of a shootout, but it's also a bit difficult to tell how true that is at this point.
The big question is whether Alex Smith could carry the offense through four quarters of a high scoring affair. He was a key part of the 49ers comeback against the Philadelphia Eagles, but his best work came in two quarters of play. While that is a concern to be considered, given the 49ers defense and special teams, along with their proven ability to put up a decent amount of points, I really am not as concerned as I might otherwise be.
One comparison for this team would be the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. They put together a world-class defense and won the Super Bowl in spite of an up and down offense. The offense finished the season 14th in points scored, but also had six games in which they scored no touchdowns. They went 2-4 in those games. The 49ers are not exactly wowing folks with a high-powered offense, but I do have more faith in Alex Smith than the Ravens likely had in Tony Banks and Trent Dilfer.
I think my general point at this point is that the 49ers are built to keep games relatively low scoring and quite competitive. They are not going to win many 34-30 shootouts, but they are also not a team that is likely to get into many such high scoring affairs. This weekend's game against the New York Giants will be a solid test for the 49ers. They have actually outscored the Giants, but the Giants will bring more to the table than the Browns or Redskins did.
If the 49ers are going to consistently win, it will be in games where they can win with 20-24 points. It would be nice to know they can win with more than that, but maybe this defense and special teams are good enough where that will simply not be an issue to worry about.