4 Stats That Prove the 49ers Are the Best Team in the NFL
The utter dominance of the San Francisco 49ers is arguably the most surprising storyline in the league this season. Now more than 13 games into the year, it's safe to say this is no fluke. In fact, you can make a pretty convincing case that the 49ers are the best team in the NFL.
With that in mind, here are four stats that prove San Francisco is the best team in the league.
1. Blitz Percentage vs. Sack Rate
The 49ers are at or near the top of the league in pretty much every stat that quantifies a pass-rushing unit. They're first in sack percentage (10.3), second in hurry percentage (14.3) and third in total sacks (45). Amazingly, the 49ers are generating all this pressure despite blitzing at the league's fourth-lowest rate (20.4 percent). That means San Francisco is generating consistent pressure by rushing four, which allows its secondary to defend without losing an extra man in coverage. For comparison, the Baltimore Ravens, who have a league-high 100 QB hits (including Week 15) blitz at a 50.4 percent rate, which is also a league high.
2. Passing Yards Allowed
That pass-rushing unit has clearly made life a lot easier for San Francisco's secondary, because it's been pretty much impossible to throw on the 49ers. Opponents are averaging 150.8 passing yards per game against San Francisco, which, if projected out over a full season, would equate to a total of about 2,413 yards allowed. We haven't seen a defense hold opponents below 2,500 passing yards for a full season since peak Darrelle Revis was with the 2009 New York Jets. Considering how pass-heavy the league has become since then, it could be a long time before we see another team's secondary play this well.
3. Yards Per Play
The 49ers' defense has been so dominant, their offense hasn't gotten the attention that it deserves. San Francisco is averaging the league's fifth-most yards per play (6.0), and its doing it with one of the most well-balanced attacks in the NFL. The 49ers are tied for third in the NFL with an average of 8.3 yards pass per attempt, and they've averaged the second-most rushing yards per game (149.1). In fact, San Francisco is the only team in the NFL that ranks top three in both yards per pass attempt and rushing yards per game. Kyle Shanahan's offense can hurt you in a myriad of ways, and that elite level of efficiency will make the 49ers tough to beat – especially when paired with such a dynamic defense.
4. Everything George Kittle
George Kittle is averaging 10.1 receiving yards per target this season. That makes him the only tight end in the league averaging at least 10.0 yards per target, and one of only three players (Amari Cooper and Chris Godwin) that has caught at least 60 passes and averages at least 10.0 yards per target. But Kittle's effectiveness is not just limited to his work as a receiver. He's one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, and San Francisco actually averages 4.9 yards per carry with him on the field compared to just 3.0 when he's off of it, per NFL's Next Gen Stats. Kittle might be the most versatile offensive threat in the sport, and he showed just how quickly he can take over a game with his game-sealing, 39-yard reception against New Orleans in Week 14.
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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.