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3 reasons the San Francisco 49ers are legitimate contenders in the NFC

Richard Sherman, Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers

At this point, what else do you need to see from the San Francisco 49ers? Last week the last unbeaten team in the NFC dismantled the Cleveland Browns while also taking care of business this week, this time against division their division rival Los Angeles Rams.

Not only did the 49ers defeat the reigning conference champions, but they did so in convincing fashion, winning 20-7.

While some did, in fact, think the Niners were going to be this good, most did not, including me, but what the last five games have shown us is that the team in the bay is legit.

3. Their defense is for real

San Francisco has outscored their last two opponents 51-10. The Rams and the Browns were predicted to be two of the top five offenses in the league and while their seasons haven’t gone as they expected, holding them to a combined 10 points says more about the 49ers defense then it does about the opposing offense.

Cornerback Richard Sherman has been the defense’s champion, calling for fans to vote essentially their entire defense to the Pro Bowl and many of them have a case. Their defensive line is scary. In San Francisco’s last five drafts they have chosen a pass rusher as their number one pick in four of those and it shows.

Nick Bosa, Soloman Thomas, DeForest Buckner, and Arik Armstead have given quarterbacks problems and it seemed like Jared Goff had around two seconds or less every time he dropped back. With a secondary that can cover and this defensive front, the Niners are stacked with talent on the defensive side of the ball.

2. Jimmy Garoppolo won’t lose you games

While I am not completely sold on Jimmy G just yet, last night proved that he will not get in the way of winning ball games. Garoppolo is a smart and capable quarterback that will make the right decision in a Kyle Shanahan led offense. I see a lot of Jared Goff in him as the two are in similar situations.

When the Rams went to the Super Bowl last year Goff excelled in situations where he was not asked to do too much. In Shanahan’s offensive system, Garoppolo has enough weapons around him that hide his shortcomings. Is Garoppolo a top-five quarterback? No, but is he a quarterback capable of taking you to and maybe winning a Super Bowl? I believe so.

1. Kyle Shanahan is what every other team is looking for

After the Sean McVay explosion, every team in the league was in search of the next young offensive genius. The Niners have seemed to have found him in Shanahan. The Niners are doing all of this without a star wide receiving threat or a star running back. Imagine how scary that offense would look if they had an AJ Green out wide or Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield.

Shanahan isn’t simply a creative play-caller that can make Garoppolo look good, he is a head coach that keeps defenses guessing and does it all with under the radar weapons.

Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman were nice pieces in other offensive systems and mostly considered backups, now they are focal points in an offense that seemingly can run the ball at will.