49ers

Why 49ers' impressive 6-0 start to season might portend Super Bowl run

Why 49ers' impressive 6-0 start to season might portend Super Bowl run

It wasn't pretty, but the 49ers slid past Washington in Week 7 to get to 6-0.

With the New England Patriots still to play on Monday night, the 49ers currently are the only team that surely will enter Week 8 with an undefeated record. The 49ers have played the easiest schedule in the NFL thus far, with their six opponents combining for an 11-28 record to this point.

Still, you only can control what's in front of you, and Kyle Shanahan's club has taken care of business at every turn. On the back of a stingy defense led by Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and a dominant defensive line, the 49ers are holding opponents to 223.5 yards per game and 10.7 points per game. While the defense has been impossible to score on, Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense has done what's been needed to get wins.

After the 9-0 win over Washington, Garoppolo now has back-to-back games with zero touchdowns and one interception, but it didn't cost them against either the Rams or Washington.

But just how legitimate are the 49ers? Are they Super Bowl contenders or paper tigers?

Well, based on NFL history, a Super Bowl run could indeed be in the future for the red and gold. The 49ers are the fifth team in NFL history to start a season 6-0 after winning less than five games in the previous season. Two of the first four teams to achieve the feat made an appearance in the Super Bowl. 

The 49ers return home in Week 8 to face a Panthers team that has won four games in a row and is in the thick of the NFC South race. Quarterback Kyle Allen will get the nod for the fifth straight game as Cam Newton continues to rehab.

After that duel with the Panthers, the 49ers will take on Kyler Murray and the Cardinals before a massive NFC West showdown with the Seahawks in Week 10.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in win vs. Washington]

At 6-0, the 49ers appear to be flying toward the playoffs. With an elite defense, efficient running attack and innovative coach, a Super Bowl run certainly could be in the cards.

49ers' Ross Dwelley remains humble despite breakout game vs. Cardinals

49ers' Ross Dwelley remains humble despite breakout game vs. Cardinals

SANTA CLARA — If your job description was modified every week, how willing and able would you be adapting to the demands of your superiors? 

That’s exactly what 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley has done successfully week after week in the first six starts of his career. He has adjusted his play for injured players at fullback, offensive line and of course, tight end, in a seamless fashion.

Dwelley has even been given the nickname “Baby George” by his teammates for how similar he is becoming to Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, however, may have just given Dwelley a new moniker. 

“Yeah, he’s kind of the Swiss army knife in our offense right now,” Garoppolo said. “He does a little bit of everything, lines up split out at receiver sometimes, so you’ve got to tip your hat to him. 

“He’s had a lot on his plate the last however many weeks just with guys being down. He doesn’t even hesitate. He just attacks it, gets the formation and goes out there and performs. When his number is called, he does a great job.”

With all the praise he has been given over the last few weeks, Dwelley remains soft spoken and humble. His first answers in interviews always point to the closeness of the locker room and the support he has been given, even though he has been the one doing the extra credit work. 

“We have a lot of guys on this team stepping up when when guys go down,” Dwelley said when asked about filling in for Kittle. “It just speaks to how special this team is overall. We all got each others backs and we all just try to step up when we need to.” 

Dwelley might not have actually lined up on the offensive line but his play definitely supported backups Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill when he stepped in for fullback Kyle Juszczyk who was nursing a knee injury. Coach Kyle Shanahan gave a lot of credit to the second-year tight end for all of the things he does that don’t show up on the stats sheet. 

“Ross has been great,” Shanahan said. “He’s been great all year. He was unbelievable stepping up, taking over for Juice when Juice was out and he’s been great stepping up for Kittle when he’s been out. 

“Ross has been one of the better football players on our team this year and doesn’t get a lot of accolades because he’s not going to sit there and get a bunch of explosive plays, but he’s as good of a football player as we’ve got going right now.”

Dwelley’s hard work paid off in the 49ers 36-26 victory over the Cardinals. Half of his four receptions went for touchdowns, the first two of his career. While Shanahan called the plays for Dwelley’s trips to the end zone, in a light-heartened manner he wants to make sure his tight end doesn’t get over confident.

[RELATED: Kittle impressed by Dwelley's play]

Dwelley’s low yards per catch average for the season are a constant point of reference by Shanahan to keep his player in check. While Dwelley currently is averaging 4.7 yards per reception, up until Week 9, it barely stood at one yard. 

“It’s fun to mess with him,” Shanahan said. “I mean, we respect the heck out of him. I said he was the best football player on our team yesterday, so I don’t mind messing with his average. He also had a 14-yarder called back so that’s where he got messed up. Or it was 10 yards I’m not sure. It’s better to keep his average down just to keep him humble. You know, we don’t want him to get carried away."

49ers' Dee Ford could miss a couple games, coach Kyle Shanahan says

49ers' Dee Ford could miss a couple games, coach Kyle Shanahan says

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers could be down another edge rusher on Sunday night, as it appears defensive end Dee Ford is unlikely to play against the Green Bay Packers.

Ford sustained a right hamstring strain on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals while throwing Kyler Murray for a 5-yard sack in the second quarter of the 49ers’ 36-26 victory at Levi’s Stadium. Ford ranks third on the team with 6.5 sacks.

“Any time you have a hamstring strain, there is concern it could be a couple of weeks,” coach Kyle Shanahan said on Monday.

The 49ers hope to get tight end George Kittle back on the field after missing two games with undisclosed knee and ankle issues. Shanahan declined to identify the nature of Kittle’s injuries.

“I know it was enough to keep most people out for some time, which is has for George,” Shanahan said. “He’s missed two games now, and I know it will go down to the wire again this week. But hoping this week will be different.”

The 49ers (9-1) have a huge NFC matchup on Sunday night against the Packers (8-2). The 49ers lead the race in the NFC West, as well as home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks (8-2) are one game behind the 49ers for the division lead. The New Orleans Saints (8-2) are also in the mix for home-field advantage.

Shanahan said running back Matt Breida (ankle) and kicker Robbie Gould (right quadriceps) are uncertain for participation in practice on Wednesday due to their injuries. Gould has missed two games, while Breida sat out Sunday’s game.

[RELATED: Why Bosa believes Cardinals made right call with Kyler]

Wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder) played Sunday but are uncertain for practice participation on Wednesday. Their availability will be determined later in the week.

Nose tackle D.J. Jones (groin) and left tackle Joe Staley (finger) are not expected to be available this week due to their injuries.