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49ers Defeat Cincinnati Bengals Behind Defense, Special Teams

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The San Francisco 49ers improved to 2-1 Sunday afternoon as they escaped Cincinnati with a win that can best be described as ______. Feel free to fill in the blank with non-swear words at this point. Ugly would seem to be the easiest choice as the 49ers committed numerous penalties and struggled to get their offense going with any consistency until late in the third quarter. When you notch the first ever 13-8 victory in NFL history, the score really does say it all.

As a fan watching the game, I was stuck between wondering if the offense would ever turn it on and having this feeling that victory actually was inevitable. I wouldn't say it was confidence that made me feel that way so much as it just seemed like eventually the 49ers would put it together. Maybe it's more a matter of blind optimism. Feel free to judge accordingly.

It wouldn't be surprising that you could argue the game took a turn for the 49ers favor when they began taking some manner of control in the battle for field position. When the 49ers started at their own 20 or worse, they punted (or had the one fumble). Their three scoring opportunities came following drives that started on the 49ers 47, 49ers 28 and Bengals 32. Those possessions started after a solid kick return, a solid punt return and a Carlos Rogers interception.

Thus far through three games, it really has come down to field position each game. Given the 49ers offensive inconsistencies that is not surprising, but does go to show how important special teams and turnovers are to the 49ers. Those two units are important to everybody, but given the limitations thus far on offense, they're all the more so. I do think the offense has the potential to develop into a consistent force, but until then, field position is going to decide just about every 49ers game.

Good offenses can overcome poor field position. The 49ers offense, not so much at this point. There were some jokes after week one about how the 49ers could just count on a couple Ted Ginn return touchdowns each week and all would be well in the world. While that has not exactly been the case, the special teams and defense have stepped up their game to put the offense in a position to make some plays.

For the foreseeable future, those two units will be what carries this team. I remain convinced that the offense can get some more consistency at some point this season, but for now that's simply not happening. Twice it has done enough to win and once it did just enough to lose. I guess we'll have to wait and see what Sunday brings against the Philadelphia Eagles.