Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 11/12/11

Everything has seemed to come up roses for the San Francisco 49ers this season, and more specifically Jim Harbaugh. He was able to leapfrog to the NFL and not even have to relocate from the metropolitan area where he coached college. His squad had minimal expectations coming into the season and now it looks like the second best group in the NFC.

Offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. If this adage holds true, it seems like San Francisco is on the right side of the spectrum and the Green Bay Packers better start making some adjustments. The 49ers have allowed just under fifteen points per contest. That is phenomenal considering that we are talking about the half of the schedule with the better weather. Defensive tackle Justin Smith and linebacker Patrick Willis are consistent performers for San Francisco. Their quality play has catapulted the unit into one of the elite groups in the entire league.

Before the season, quarterback Alex Smith was seen in a similar light as JaMarcus Russell. Both players were first overall selections who didn’t pan out for their respective bay area clubs. The former has really taken the tutelage provided by Harbaugh. He is Mr. check down by regularly choosing the safe option on pass routes, but it has worked thus far. He has completed over sixty-four percent of his passes and led the team to three comeback wins in the fourth quarter. The ten touchdowns and rating of ninety-seven are the two most impressive aspects of his game this season. It demonstrates that some stability and fresh scenery can be conducive to increased production.

The team has been averaging four and a half yards per carry on the ground; the resurgence of Frank Gore has been a pleasant surprise to San Francisco fans. He has accumulated five touchdowns and seven hundred eighty-two yards. Part of the reason for this average of nearly five yards per carry has been a counterpart who takes away some of the load during drives. Kendall Hunter has done this effectively all season long and looks poised to do more of the same in the second half. Smith has been successful because too much hasn’t been put on his shoulders.

Proof that Smith has been completing safe and short passes comes in the receiving numbers. The leading pass catcher on the team is Vernon Davis. The Washington D.C. native is having a Pro Bowl caliber year with three touchdowns and three hundred thirty-nine yards through the air. I do realize that Braylon Edwards only has ten receptions so far because of his shaky health, but he is often an enigma anyway.

The kicking and punting of Andy Lee and David Akers have been second to none. The former has averaged over fifty yards per punt while the latter has achieved four field goals over fifty yards. The puzzling aspect is that Akers is only one out of four from forty to forty-nine yards. Maybe they should take a delay of game penalty when faced with those situations.

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