COMMENTARY | We might be heading into Week 16 of the regular season, but it's important to look back at the year up to this point through the lens of the San Francisco 49ers. Despite struggles here and there, San Francisco sits at 10-4 and is in prime position to earn its third consecutive postseason appearance. Let's take a gander at the top-five moments of the 49ers season thus far.
5. Frank Gore Gets His Seventh 1,000-Yard Season
We have to take a step back to put this into perspective. When Gore went over the 1,000-yard mark on the season last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it represented the seventh time in his career that he has reached that plateau. Only the likes of Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Curtis Martin, Barry Sanders, Franco Harris, Tony Dorsett, Thurman Thomas, Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson have put up more 1,000-yard campaigns.
As San Francisco's all-time leading rusher, there are some who have started to make the statement that Gore belongs in the Hall of Fame. While I won't go that far yet, it is stunning that he is still contributing at this high level at the age of 30. That rarely happens for a running back in the NFL.
The third-year quarterback began this season with a tantalizing performance that set in motion expectations that had to be considered through the roof. Playing the Packers for the second time in four games, postseason included, Kaepernick torched the Dom Capers-led defense to the tune of 412 passing yards and three touchdowns.
While Kaepernick ended up struggling a great deal in his next two outings, this one game proved that he had the ability to win games with his arm, something that he will likely have to do if the 49ers are going to repeat as conference champions. Overall, Kaepernick has put up 878 total yards and seven touchdowns in two career games against Green Bay. This bodes well for the 49ers should the two teams play in the playoffs next month, which is now a real possibility.
3. San Francisco Proves it Can Beat Seattle, Avoids Seahawks Clinch at Candlestick
While Seattle has been busy celebrating what seems to be 12 Super Bowl championships this season, San Francisco made a strong statement against the division leaders in Week 14. It went head to head against the best team in the NFL, a team that was coming off a seven-game winning streak, and beat them at their own game. Playing dominant defense and containing Russell Wilson, San Francisco held the Seahawks to a total of 264 total yards and 13 first downs.
San Francisco's offense also came alive against the best defense the NFL has to offer. Despite throwing a red zone interception, Kaepernick performed better than Wilson and came through on key third downs conversions throughout the game. While it might not have been enough to grab the division, San Francisco proved that it wasn't going to go quietly into the night in its attempt to win a third consecutive NFC West title.
2. Michael Crabtree's Return
Probably more important in the playoffs next month than it was when Crabtree returned in Week 12, his return was extremely important for a 49ers passing game that was then the worst in the entire National Football League. Crabtree has struggled at times throughout his first three games of the season, but came up big time against St. Louis Rams in his debut, catching a 60-yard pass that brought back memories of his performance from the second half of last season.
After struggling to get anything going against Seattle in Week 14, Crabtree appeared to be 100 percent last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He recorded five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. Not only will Crabtree make an impact in the passing game, he's going to help open up opportunities for both Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. That's why his return is one of the top-five moments of the 49ers season thus far.
Some may wonder why this is the No. 1 moment of the 49ers season thus far. As important as Brocks' two-interception, one-touchdown performance against the Houston Texans was in Week 5, it had larger implications for San Francisco moving forward. The former undrafted free agent proved that he could step into a larger role in the 49ers defense, paving the way for the release of veteran Nnamdi Asomugha. Brock hasn't taken a step back since. According to Pro Football Focus, the fourth-year pro is the No. 1 overall cover cornerback in the NFL through 15 weeks. Just think about that for a second. It goes without saying that Brock has earned the four-year extension that San Francisco gave him less than a month ago.
Overall, most 49ers fans hope that there are a few more moments that will be added to this list when all is said and done. After all, this is a team that is at the point where it isn't going to celebrate regular season victories. Due to the success that we have seen over the past three seasons, it is now Super Bowl or bust for the 49ers. The hope in Santa Clara is that the No. 1 moment from the 2013 season will be the hoisting of the Lombardi trophy when all is said and done. That's the ultimate goal.Vincent Frank has been covering the National Football League for three years. He started out writing for Bleacher Report and is currently the head editor at eDraft and a columnist at Pro Football Focus. Vincent co-hosts a weekly radio show called "Football Debate Central" with former NFL player Ryan Riddle and has seen his work featured on CNN, BR and Los Angeles Times, among many other outlets.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- San Francisco
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- San Francisco 49ers
- Frank Gore
- Colin Kaepernick
- Michael Crabtree