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Would the 49ers be contenders with a good offense?

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A young, talented defense and a bad, lethargic offense ... what if things were different?

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers looked very good against the Seattle Seahawks. Scratch that — the 49ers’ defense looked very good against the Seahawks, until they were forced to be on the field for 80 plays in a single afternoon. Things unraveled late, and nobody can blame them for that.

Well, you can blame them for that, but you’d be unreasonable. The point is the 49ers have generally performed well against the run and against the Seahawks, they managed to put some pressure on Russell Wilson. Despite injuries to safeties, they have also had strong play out of that position group.

And, on top of that, we’re not hearing a whole lot about cornerbacks getting beaten and that, in itself, is a good thing. The 49ers don’t have a ton at the cornerback position — a lot of inexperience and a lot of questionable starters going into the season. But through two games, they’ve generally played well.

Tackling hasn’t been perfect. The pass rush wasn’t effective in Week 1. Penalties have been an issue. All the issues that come with being a young team in rebuilding mode apply to the 49ers, make no mistake about it.

But the offense has been pretty bad through two games, and have done the defense next to no favors overall. It has me wondering: would the 49ers be a bonafide competitor if the offense wasn’t so bad? If the offense was, at least, average or above-average, would the 49ers be considered a playoff contender?

I tend to think that they would, though long-term injuries to Reuben Foster and Eric Reid do hurt their chances a bit. Those are the kind of injuries that, if the 49ers were a better team overall, would be hugely destructive to their season. Rather than talking about growth issues for a young team, we’d be talking about missing a golden opportunity.

Or maybe I’m crazy and the defense isn’t as good as I think it is. What about you guys?