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49ers avoid slippage after turnaround season

The SportsXchange

The San Francisco 49ers are bucking a trend.

Most teams that go from having losing records one year to posting 10 or more wins the next year typically fall back to 9-7 or worse in the third year of the cycle.

According to the Pro Football Post's Joe Fortenbaugh, 29 teams have gone from a sub-.500 record to an above-.500 record over the past 10 years. In 26 of those cases, the team has finished with no more than nine wins the next season.

The 49ers are in good position to avoid that fate after posting a 6-2 record through the first half of the season. Barring a collapse, San Francisco is set up for another double-digit win season and a second consecutive playoff appearance.

The 49ers are bucking the trend by being far better statistically than they were last year. They needed improvement this year because so much of their success last season was predicated on their favorable turnover ratio, which was a whopping plus-28.

Instead of winning with turnovers and field position, the 49ers are simply playing better on both sides of the ball.

Defensively, the 49ers are ranked first in the league in yards allowed per game, yards allowed per play, points allowed per game, net passing yards per play and fewest first downs allowed.

Offensively, the 49ers rank 11th in total yardage after they stood 26th at the midway point last year.

Quarterback Alex Smith has done what the 49ers have asked, taking more chances, with the result being more touchdowns and interceptions. At the midway point last year, Smith had thrown 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions, a 7.12-yard average per attempt and a 98.8 passer rating.

This year, everything is higher, including the picks. Smith has thrown 12 touchdown passes and five interceptions, and his average gain per attempt is up nearly a yard at 7.94 yards. His passer rating stands at 102.1, which ranks third in the NFC and fifth in the NFL

The team also has the league's best running game. Last year at the midway point, the 49ers were ranked sixth in that category.

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