Monday, October 8, 2012
Around the NFC West: 49ers team to beat
By Mike Sando
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- NFC West teams have a combined 14-6 record, the best for any division in the NFL.
Three teams from the NFC West -- San Francisco, Arizona and Seattle -- have a combined 10-1 record in non-division games. The other NFC West team, St. Louis, has a 2-0 record within the division.
And for the first time since divisional realignment in 2002, every team in the NFC West has a winning record through Week 5.
This is, by all accounts, the best division in the NFL right now.
And the 49ers, without question, remain the team to beat within it. They won't skate through the division unbeaten, most likely. The Cardinals always give them trouble. Winning at Seattle and St. Louis figures to be tough. But after outscoring the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills 79-3 over the past two weeks, San Francisco has reasserted itself as the most complete team in the NFC West, and perhaps in the NFL.
There can be little question after the 49ers amassed a franchise-record 621 yards during their 45-3 victory over the Bills at Candlestick Park on Sunday. The yardage total represented 74.5 percent of the combined Week 5 offensive output for the Seahawks (310), Cardinals (282) and Rams (242).
Quarterback Alex Smith leads the NFL in Total QBR for the season after ranking only 22nd last season, another strong indicator through five games. More on that after a bit.
I've written about the 49ers' historic victory extensively already. The box along the right side features links to coverage for both the 49ers and Bills. I'll probably have a chance to drop by Jim Harbaugh's day-after-game news conference before heading to the airport and returning home.
We've got a marquee matchups in the division for Week 6, including New England's visit to Seattle. I'm booked on a return flight to the Bay Area for the 49ers' NFC Championship Game rematch with the New York Giants.