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How the 49ers have dominated the NFC West this season

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San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As the old adage goes, the best way to secure a path into the NFL playoffs is through your division. The 49ers have flat-out dominated their competition within the NFC West this season, with their Monday night victory over the Cardinals clinching their first winning record within the division since 2019.

The 38-10 shellacking that the 49ers put on the Cardinals in Mexico City was their fourth double-digit win in as many games against divisional opponents this season, with an average margin of victory of 20 points.

To put that massive number in perspective, the last time the 49ers had a winning record in the division was in 2019, and in that season, their average margin of victory in the NFC West was 6.8 points.

Keep in mind divisional games typically go to the wire simply because of the familiarity between the two teams that see each other twice a season. So what has been the driving force behind the 49ers' ability to throttle their division foes?

For starters, DeMeco Ryans and the 49ers' defense has been absolutely stellar in these matchups. The defense is allowing just 8.2 points per game against the NFC West and have shut their opponents out in the second half of three of those four games.

The only divisional game where the 49ers' defense has allowed points in the second half was Week 4 against the Rams when they allowed a measly 3 points en route to a 15-point victory.

One reason for this has been the 49ers defenses ability to completely shut down the opposition's rushing attack. In those four games, NFC West opponents are averaging just 54 rushing yards per game at a clip of 2.8 yards per carry. None have ran for more than 70 yards in a game against the 49ers this season.

While the defense has been spectacular, it has been a balanced effort on both sides of the ball for the 49ers in these NFC West showdowns. The 49ers offense and Jimmy Garoppolo in particular, have played their best football of the season against the Rams, Cardinals, and Seahawks.

The 49ers' offense is averaging 30 points per game against the division this season, with their lowest total being the 24 they scored on the Rams back in week 4. They’ve consistently been a nightmare for opposing defenses to deal with, and the elite level of play from Garoppolo in these matchups has been the catalyst behind their ability to seemingly score points at will.

Here are Garoppolo’s numbers against the NFC West this season:

69% completion percentage

9.96 adjusted yards per attempt

8 touchdowns

0 interceptions

120.4 passer rating

Garoppolo has been sensational in these pivotal matchups and has been aided by an efficient running game that has churned out three 100-yard games to the tune of 4.6 yards per carry against the NFC West this season.

This balanced attack has made the majority of these matchups essentially uncompetitive for long stretches of these games, which again is extremely abnormal for this sample size of divisional games, and frankly speaks volumes to just how dangerous this 49ers team is when they play to their potential.

There is a long way to go in the season, but as we enter Week 12, the 49ers can hold their heads high, knowing this domination against the NFC West is the reason they currently hold the top spot in the division despite having the same record as Seattle.

The Week 15 matchup between the 49ers and Seahawks is shaping up to be another classic chapter in the heated rivalry between these two teams, with ramifications that could ultimately decide who is crowned in the NFC West.