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Did the 49ers overachieve during the 2023 regular season?

They won one more game than they were projected to

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Coming into the season, the San Francisco 49ers had the highest projected win total in the NFC at 11.5. The Niners hit the ground running to start the year. At one point, we pondered whether this team could reach 14 wins.

Those goals were too lofty, as San Francisco lost three in a row after that. Still, finishing with 12 wins is nothing to scoff at. The 49ers only lost two games after their bye week, and their starters didn’t finish one of those games.

If we’re going based on oddsmakers’ expectations, the 49ers still managed to overachieve this season. We knew the offense had a chance to be special, and they did not disappoint.

The 49ers scored at least 30 points in half of their games and could’ve easily reached 40 had they not taken their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter, as several of those games turned into blowouts.

The defense lost DeMeco Ryans, swapped out Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam for Javon Hargrave, and had some secondary turnover. The prisoner-of-the-moment fans lost it whenever the defense allowed a score this season. Earlier in the year, some wanted Steve Wilks fired.

An entire regular season later, Wilks made necessary adjustments to his personnel. This unit relied on turnovers and forcing opposing offenses to settle for field goals when they did move the ball. It took some time and tinkering, but Wilks found the recipe for success.

This season, more than others, is an offensive season. Every team in the top 10 in DVOA made the playoffs on offense. Only six of the top 10 teams defensively are in the postseason.

It’s fair to say the 49ers overachieved. Their weighted offense is eight percentage points better than the second-placed Ravens. It’s also 11 percent higher than the 49ers offense from 2022 down the stretch when Purdy took over.

The Niners were expected to be the best team in the NFC, and they answered the bell. They embarrassed the preseason NFC East powerhouses while sweeping their division in the games where they needed to.

A 10-2 conference record is impressive. A 7-2 road record is incredible. This team would have been the point differential champions had they had something to play for in Week 18. From start to finish, this was the best team in the regular season in the NFC. That’s not easy when there’s a target on your back. In that sense, I believe the 49ers overachieved.