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The 49ers are in rare air with how they’re blowing teams out this year

And can remain in that company if they keep winning big

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

In my numbers-to-know column for last week’s Eagles game, I mentioned that Philadelphia was 7-1 in one-possession games this season, and the 49ers were 1-2. I was expecting a close game and seeing Philadelphia’s record in close games this season, and I even picked the Eagles to beat the 49ers in a close one.

Then the 49ers beat the presumed NFC favorites 42-19.

The 23-point win made me re-evaluate some things. One-possession wins are important to me because, in theory, the competition tends to be better in the playoffs, leading to more one-possession games. But while the 49ers have only won one of its three one-possession games, it has four wins by 21 or more points, all against teams currently sitting in a playoff spot.

So this got me thinking: what if the 49ers just blow out good teams and render one-possession games obsolete through the playoffs? Is there even a precedent for a team blowing out good teams this frequently? To get it out of the way, I am defining a blowout as 21 points. Not three possessions, but three touchdowns with three good PATs.

The 49ers are one of 14 teams this season with at least one win of 21 or more points but are also one of four teams to have four or more such wins this season. The four blowout wins came against Pittsburgh, Dallas, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia.

The other three with four or more such wins are Dallas (6), Miami (4), and Buffalo (4). Where the 49ers differ from the three others with four three-touchdown wins is the quality of opponents.

The 49ers’ four blowout wins feature four teams at least two games over .500 through 13 weeks, while the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Bills have combined for just three 21-point or more wins against teams .500 or better.

Put into winning percentage, the four teams the 49ers have blown out are a combined 34-14 (.708). The three other teams’ 21-point wins have come against 14 teams with a combined 58-113 record (.339).

I think it’s more likely to face a team with a .708 win percentage in the playoffs than it is to meet a team at .339.

I went back over the last seven Super Bowls just to see how many 21-plus-point wins each of the previous 14 conference champions had. The 2017 Eagles led the way with five, with all 14 teams having at least two such wins. But, like the three other teams in 2023, recent conference champions have picked apart weaker teams more often than not.

Of the 14 teams, only three had blowout wins against teams with a combined .500 or better record. The three are:

2016 New England (3 blow-out wins): 24-24 (.500)

2022 Philadelphia (3): 25-25-1 (.500)

2022 Kansas City (2): 17-17 (.500)

If the 49ers reach the Super Bowl this season, it would likely become the first team in recent history with its blowout wins coming against teams with a combined record of .500 or better. Even the 2019 49ers - who had four such wins, the same as the 2023 49ers - had those wins come against teams a combined 26-38 in 2019.

Even the teams with the most blowout wins in NFL history did it mostly against teams with sub .500 record. Nine teams in NFL history have finished a season with seven or more wins with a point differential of 21 or more, and six of those nine went on to play in the Super Bowl. Those six are:

2007 New England: 10 games won by 21 or more points

1999 St. Louis: 9

1996 Green Bay: 8

1991 Washington, 1994 San Francisco, 2014 New England: 7

Of those six, only two (Green Bay and 2014 New England) did so against teams that went a combined .500 or better - Green Bay at .508, New England at .575 - still a far shout from the 2023 49ers.

Historically, the more blowout wins, the better. Of the 175 teams in NFL history with at least four 21-point blowout wins - like the 2023 49ers have now - 28 percent went on to play in the Super Bowl. Five such wins? 24-of-69 have played in the Super Bowl (34.7 percent). Six? 47.6. Seven? 66.7 percent. One hundred percent of teams with at least eight 21-point victories have gone onto the Super Bowl.

The 49ers still have a few blowouts to go before reaching the upper echelon of teams in NFL history, but with a schedule that includes three teams currently below .500 and two teams San Francisco has already beaten by at least two scores, it might not be out of reach. However, what should get fans excited is not just the blowout wins; it’s the quality of opponents in those games, something we haven’t seen in NFL history.