(CBS San Franisco/CBS Local) — The NFL season is still young, and undefeated teams dot the standings after Week 3. Most of the names will not surprise anyone. They are teams expected to still be playing in January. However, one — the San Francisco 49ers — has certainly raised a few eyebrows. The 49ers remain undefeated going into their Week 4 bye.
How are the Niners keeping up with their NFC West rivals the Los Angeles Rams, among the other non-surprises leading the way?
“Strength of schedule,” according to Inside The NFL analyst Brandon Marshall. The 49ers have taken down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers so far. Those teams are a combined 1-8. Only the Steelers were expected to make any noise going into the season, but after Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury, those forecasts have been revised downward.
But there is another reason. “Jimmy G is back, according to Marshall. “And when you have your quarterback in position [and] healthy, it helps out the entire team. It helps out the coaching staff.”
Even with their starting quarterback in place, the 49ers’ wins haven’t always been pretty. Two pick-6s pushed them past the Buccaneers in the opener, while the offense sputtered. Garoppolo looked better against the lowly Bengals, tossing three touchdowns. In their most recent triumph over the Steelers, Garoppolo passed for 277 yards and a touchdown. He also tossed two interceptions, amidst the team’s five total turnovers.
The 49ers will need to improve their consistency to remain undefeated after the bye week. A tough matchup with the presently undefeated Rams awaits them in Week 6. Overall, their schedule, which also includes matchups with the win-less Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals, also lays out nicely for a playoff run.
Famous last words…
The 49ers have a bye in Week 4 but return to face the Browns in Week 5.
You can catch Brandon Marshall along with Ray Lewis, Phil Simms and host James Brown when Inside The NFL airs tonight at 9 p.m. Pacific Time on Showtime.