With the 42-10 thrashing of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the books, the 49ers end a favorable run in their schedule that saw them take full advantage of some of the lesser teams in the league. After starting 1-2, San Francisco has run off five straight wins, outscoring their opponents 174-61. Their mark of 6-2 at the halfway point puts the team in excellent position for a second half run as they get healthier and also start to see some keys players return from injury. Here's what 49er fans are talking about after Week 8:
The numbers don't paint the whole picture
Even though the numbers may not show it, Colin Kaepernick as turned a huge corner. In the last two weeks, Kaepernick is 23-of-37 for 363 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers would indicate that of a game manager and don't come close to telling the whole story. Kaepernick and the 49ers have been extremely efficient the in their recent victories, partly because of the fact that Kaepernick is making the most of this throws (He is averaging just under 10 yards an attempt). Add in the fact that he has 122 yards rushing on 18 carries and three touchdowns on the ground and Kaepernick is again a dual threat that can beat you in multiple ways. The second year starter is beginning to look a lot like the quarterback that brought San Francisco to the Super Bowl last year instead of the one that struggled early in the season.
Gore climbing the ladder
With 71 yards in Week 8, Frank Gore passed Earl Campbell and Shaun Alexander to become the 30th all time leading rusher in NFL history. Gore has 9,457 yards in his career and is now only 543 away from 10,000. If he stays healthy, he should be able to reach that mark this season. Gore also has seven rushing touchdowns which is only three off his career high of 10. There has been some talk of the 49ers possibly cutting ties with Gore after this season due to his contract and age. With the way he is playing so far in 2013, it's hard to imagine that can still be a consideration.
William's future in jeopardy?
Kyle Williams had a bad day. The much maligned returner and receiver fumbled both a punt and kickoff in the first half and had two catchable balls go off his finger tips. He also allowed his momentum to take him out of bounds at his own 3 yard line while receiving a kickoff at the end of the first half. Anthony Dixon replaced him in the second half and promptly returned a kickoff 46 yards. Jim Harbaugh said his plan was to use Dixon all along in return game which...um...is probably not true.
For the day, Williams had one catch for seven yards and one carry for 10 yards. With Mario Manningham, Quinton Patton and Michael Crabtree all due back in the next month or so, the 49ers need to make space on the roster. If Williams cannot provide anything on special teams, what purpose would he serve? There is a good chance he would be let go in favor of a Marlon Moore or Kassim Osgood who provide value in kick coverage.
San Francisco has now scored 30 points or more in five consecutive games for the first time since 1997 (Weeks 3-8). The offense was so good in Week 8 that they recorded 22 first downs and their first 47 snaps and scored touchdowns on each of their first four drives. The 49ers are averaging just under 35 points per game during the five game winning streak.
When Dan Skuta crossed the goal line to put the exclamation point on his 47 yard fumble return, it made the the 49ers 12 for their last 12. They have now scored on each of the last 12 times they have forced a turnover (eight touchdowns, 4 field goals). Two of those scores have been via the defense (Tramaine Brock had the other on an interception return against the Houston Texans).
Opportunistic play has been a big part of a defensive unit that has only given up 61 points over the last five weeks (12.2 per game). The 49ers are still hopeful that Aldon Smith will be back in the near future which should only provide more explosiveness in the pass rush.
The bye week could not come at a better time for a team that is a little beat up and also awaiting some key members to return. The two weeks off should allow the Niners to start incorporating Manningham in the game plan and may also get rookie Tank Carradine involved. The 49ers could use someone else to get to the quarterback in Smith's absence and Carradine may be able to do that on passing downs.
In Week 10, San Francisco starts a stretch of some tough games when they host a red hot Carolina Panthers squad. After Carolina, the Niners will go on the road the following two weeks to face off with the New Orleans Saints and then the Washington Redskins on a Monday night.