It’s Week 9 of the NFL schedule means we are at the halfway point in the regular season if you can believe it. It may feel like these past eight games went by in the blink of an eye, or maybe it has felt like an eternity after the spectacle of crushing road losses to the Bears and Broncos.
Heading into their bye and the back nine of their season, the 49ers sit at 4-4 on the heels of an impressive road win in Los Angeles that improved their record in the division to 3-0. San Francisco sits a game back of the Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West lead, a team the 49ers beat soundly in their Week 2 matchup in Santa Clara.
To give a general sense of where the team currently stands at the halfway point, I pulled together some rankings for both the offense and the defense. Let’s start with the good news first.
Despite tough showings in back-to-back weeks against the Falcons and Chiefs, the 49ers still maintain the number one defense in the NFL, allowing 285.9 yards per game. They rank in the top ten against the run and pass, anchored by their number one rushing defense that is tops in the league in yards allowed per game (86.1) and yards allowed per carry (3.4)
Here are some numbers for the 49ers' defense and where they rank league wide, which I will include in parentheses.
Total Defense - 285.9 yards per game (1st)
Passing defense - 199.3 yards per game (7th)
Rushing defense - 86.1 yards per game (1st)
Points allowed - 18.4 points per game (5th)
3rd down conversion rate - 41.5% (21st)
Red Zone efficiency - 65% (25th)
This unit has looked like one of the most dominant defenses in the league, despite missing many of its key pieces. There is some work to be done on third down and in the red zone, but overall it is still the backbone of the team and what ultimately gives the 49ers legitimate championship aspirations this season.
Now for the offense...
Total yards - 356.6 yards per game (11th)
Passing yards - 237.1 (12th)
Net yards per attempt - 7.1 (5th)
Rushing yards per game - 119.5 (16th)
Yards per carry - 4.5 (17th)
Points for - 22.0 (19th)
3rd down conversion rate - 44.3% (7th)
Red Zone efficiency - 57.7% (14th)
While nowhere near as dominant as the defense has been, the offense has been trending up in it’s own right. The addition of Christian McCaffrey likely continues that upward trajectory for a 49ers offense that is knocking on the door of top-ten territory moving forward.
McCaffrey will also play a pivotal role in the 49ers' rushing attack, increasing it’s efficiency after being around the middle of the pack as a unit for the majority of this season.
Halfway there, and my opinion of this team remains intact. If they are able to stay out of their own way and limit the self-inflicted blunders, this team is as dangerous as any in the NFL and has a realistic shot of making a run at the franchise's sixth Lombardi Trophy.