At the midway point of the season and entering their bye week, the San Francisco 49ers currently sit with a 6-2 overall record, one game behind the division-leading Seattle Seahawks. While the first half of the season had its shares of ups and downs, the 49ers are essentially in the position many of us expected they would be at this point in the season.
Let’s begin with a season recap. The Niners opened the year with a convincing win over the Green Bay Packers, in which Colin Kaepernick threw for more than 400 yards against a Packer defense obsessed with stopping the read option. Anquan Boldin made the front office look like geniuses with a 208-yard receiving debut with his new team. The next two weeks would see San Francisco go through their worst stretch of the Jim Harbaugh era. Two blowout losses in a row at the hands of the Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts had the 49ers under .500 for the first time in three years. With teams double covering Boldin, Vernon Davis being hurt and no other receiving threats emerging, Kaepernick struggled mightily creating offense. Additionally, the defense was torched by opposing running backs two weeks in a row.
However, after recommitting to Frank Gore and the running game, the 49er offense was able to get back on track against the St. Louis Rams on Thursday night football. After receiving limited opportunities in the first three games, Gore proved why the Niners’ road to glory rides through him. In the five games after Week 3, he averaged 4.53 yards per carry, accumulating 476 rushing yards and six touchdowns. It is no coincidence that those five games all ended in victory. Gore’s production on the ground has eased the burden on Kaepernick and the passing game, allowing Kaep to do his damage against defenses geared to stop the run. Defensively, players such as NaVorro Bowman, Eric Reid, Tramaine Brock, Glenn Dorsey, and Corey Lemonier have anchored a defense that has allowed just under 13 points per game during the Niners’ current five game winning streak.
So what are the 49ers’ keys to success in the second half of the season?