Joining the Patriots as the only teams with 10 wins thus far, the Niners performance on Sunday night put the rest of the league on notice and showed fans a few things.
The defense is the best in the league
San Francisco had already established itself as one of the NFL’s top defenses prior to Saturday’s game. However, after holding Aaron Rodgers, undoubtedly one of the best quarterbacks the NFL has to offer, to a mere 104 yards on 33 passing attempts, the 49ers prove their defense can dominant regardless of competition.
Not only did the Niners stifle the Green Bay passing game they also shut down Packers running back Aaron Jones. Jones entered the game with an NFL-leading 11 rushing touchdowns but was held to 38 total yards on 13 carries for a measly 2.9 yards per carry.
The 49ers were able to sack Rodgers five times and consistently executed at a high level holding Green Bay to only 1-15 on third down. Defensive end Arik Armstead and the rest of the San Francisco front seven were able to create havoc for Rodgers all night.
George Kittle is a game-changer
Missing the last two games with an ankle injury, All-Pro tight end George Kittle made his return on Sunday against the Packers. Kittle dominated in his return catching all six of his targets for 129 yards and a touchdown including a 61-yard score late in the third quarter to extend the Niners lead to 21.
Backup tight end Ross Dwelley performed admirably in Kittle’s absence but without Kittle, the 49ers offense doesn’t quite have that same “pop”. Kittle is arguably the NFL best tight end and gives quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo yet another weapon alongside Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and a stable of versatile running backs.
The 49ers are legitimate Super Bowl contenders
At 10-1 it hardly seems like a bold take to call the 49ers a contender. However, coming into Sunday’s game, there were legitimate concerns about San Francisco’s offensive potential — mainly citing the play of Garoppolo.
At 8-2 coming into the game, the Packers gave the 49ers a chance to make a statement and make a statement they did.
Dominating from start to finish, San Francisco dismantled a quality opponent. Rookie Nick Bosa leads a ferocious Niners pass rush, the 49er’s group of defensive backs is among the best in the league and it seems the defense will be able to keep San Francisco competitive in any game.
On offense, Sanders, Samuel, and Kittle make for one of the most underrated receiving trios in the league and running backs Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr. are all explosive and are all capable of having a breakout game when needed.