A Quick Peek at the Niners

John Fennelly , Lead Writer

The Giants’ next opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, are 4-1 and sit atop the NFC West which suddenly has become the most competitive division in the NFL.

After Week 5, there are 17 teams with a .500 or better record, including all four NFC West clubs – Arizona, 4-1 (.800); San Francisco, 4-1 (.800); St. Louis, 3-2 (.600); and Seattle, 3-2 (.600).

Twenty teams are in or within one game of first place of their respective divisions, tied with 2005 and 2010 for the most through Week 5 since realignment in 2002. Only one game separates all four clubs in three divisions (AFC East, NFC East and NFC West), the most through Week 5 since realignment in 2002.

The Niners’ one loss was an inexplicable one to Minnesota on the road, a flat performance that sent them home with a 24-13 blemish. We will examine that game to see how it went down, but suspicions are the Niners are not good in dome games and the Vikings are nasty in the trenches and did not get intimidated.

The Giants will have to man up in this one. They know it, too, but the 49ers will not be sneaking up on the Giants this time around. The Blue will be bracing for a high-power, high-speed effort from Jim Harbaugh’s bunch, who will be set on avenging their loss in the NFC Championship Game.

It doesn’t help that the Giants are going out there for the third time in 11 months, either. San Fran is 9-1 in their last ten regular season games at Candlestick Park. But….the Giants did beat them there in January in the post season, so, it’s possible they can do it again…but it won’t be easy.

The Niners are showing more balance this year. Last week, that balance showed up in spades vs the Buffalo Bills:

The 49ers totaled 621 yards of offense (311 rushing, 310 passing) in a 45-3 win against Buffalo. The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to net more than 300 rushing yards and 300 passing yards in a single game.

As we know, they signed two former Giants to their roster in WR Mario Manningham and RB Brandon Jacobs. Manningham is playing well but Jacobs (knee) has yet to appear in the regular season.

QB Alex Smith has maintained his efficiency. He is completing 68.6 % of his passes and has a passer rating of 108.7 – the best in the NFL. RBs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter are averaging 5.4 yards per carry and the tram has a 6.1 YPC rate, which is tops in the league.

WR Michael Crabtree leads the team in receptions with 27. TE Vernon Davis has 20 catches and 4 TDs.

San Francisco’s defense is still dominant. It is averaging 195.8 rushing yards per game (first in the NFL) and ranks first in the league in points allowed per game (13.6), second in yards allowed per game (262.6) and second in passing yards allowed per game (181.2).