The San Francisco 49ers have been amazing so far in the 2019 NFL season, as they are currently 3-0 and first place in the NFC West.
Jimmy Garappolo has had a shaky start to the season, throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles. However, the 49ers’ offense as a whole has looked phenomenal and should keep it rolling coming out of a Week 4 bye. Week 5 will bring the Cleveland Browns, who have struggled against solid defenses so far this season but did defeat the Baltimore Ravens last week. Then, in Week 6, they travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams in what could be a fight for the division lead. The 49ers may have been one of the worst teams in the league last year, but it is a whole different story just one season later as they have a solid shot a playoff berth.
Perhaps the main reason the 49ers are 3-0 is due to their strong run game. The 49ers’ backfield has looked scary despite losing starting running back, Tevin Coleman, to an ankle injury and dynamic runner, Jerick McKinnon, to a knee injury that landed him on the injured reserve. The 49ers have two running backs with over 200 yards each: Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert. Third-string running back Jeff Wilson, Jr. also added four scores on the ground through the two games in which he was active. With three different options to give the football to, the backfield becomes a matchup nightmare for defenses as they will have trouble finding a way to scheme against the different running styles. When Coleman returns to the lineup, he will likely take away touches from Breida and Mostert and may even bump Wilson, Jr. back down to the practice squad. This backfield will still be fun to watch each and every week.
Additionally, the 49ers may have the best blocking crew in the league, including fullback Kyle Juszczyk and Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle, who both open up gaping holes in the defense. If the 49ers can keep running the ball this effectively, they can open up the passing game for Garappolo and be one of the best offenses in the league.
However, the 49ers’ defense has impressed the most through the first three games. They have seven takeaways, nine sacks, and two defensive scores, including one where Richard Sherman picked off Jameis Winston and took it 32 yards to the house. The 49ers selected defensive linemen Nick Bosa with their No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft after his amazing college career at Ohio State, where he tallied 17.5 sacks and added 29 tackles for loss. If Bosa can translate this to the NFL, he can be a problem for opposing quarterbacks just like his big brother, Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers. The 49ers do not have the best defensive lineup on paper, but these guys are tenacious and always give their all in the field. With a struggling passing attack, the Niners’ defense will need to continue to hold opponents to 20 or fewer points if they want to win games because they are at their best when they can run the ball and chew the clock.
Jimmy Garappolo has not played exceptionally well, but I do have faith in the 49ers’ passing game because they have all the weapons available. I believe that they need to get both Dante Pettis and George Kittle more involved because they are two of the most athletic guys on the football field at all times. We all know what George Kittle can do when he gets the ball. Just look back at last year, when he broke the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history with 1,377.
On the other hand, Pettis missed four games last season due to injury, but when he played, he made a big difference. From Weeks 12 through 15 last season, Pettis exploded for 338 receiving yards and four touchdowns. If he can stay healthy, the 49ers can improve their passing game and help Jimmy Garappolo get comfortable in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, now a full year removed from the torn ACL he suffered back in 2018.
All the parts are coming together for the 49ers and let me tell you, they are beginning to look like a playoff team for the first time since 2013 when they went 12-4 and lost in the NFC Championship to the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers are big underdogs this season and will have a great chance to make the playoffs after a nice 3-0 start. All they have to do is just stay focused and keep on rolling.