SF 49ers: 5 biggest surprises early in 2020 so far

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /
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Philadelphia Eagles, SF 49ers
Philadelphia Eagles players celebrate over the San Francisco 49ers. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Surprise No. 1: Perhaps the SF 49ers are a .500 team overall

A 2-2 record through what should be the easiest portion of the Niners’ 2020 schedule says a lot.

Granted, San Francisco was in a position to win both its losses, falling apart late in the fourth quarter against the Cardinals while nearly staging an epic comeback against the Eagles in Week 4. But in 2019, the SF 49ers likely would have won both of those games. The fact they aren’t now is telling.

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Maybe there is a Super Bowl “hangover” after all, yet the metrics elsewhere suggest something else is lacking. From an offensive standpoint, Kyle Shanahan’s squad is currently ranked eighth in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, while the defensive efficiency is ranked fifth. The team boasts the league’s 13th-best scoring offense and second-best scoring defense through two weeks.

Granted, going up against the lowly Jets and Giants inflate those stats a bit. But it isn’t as if the Niners are struggling to move the ball or preventing the other team from doing so regularly.

Instead, perhaps the likeliest of explanations is San Francisco making one or two too many mistakes during its losses. Case in point, allowing Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to run free on 3rd-and-long plays or leaving wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins uncovered on one key play. In Week 4, the 49ers turning the ball over three times while surrendering a 42-yard touchdown pass to an unknown Eagles wide receiver, Travis Fulgham, helped seal that deal.

Those are the kinds of mistakes teams with good rosters make en route to being a .500 squad when the year is finished.

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For the SF 49ers, playing in an extremely tough NFC West, those gaffes might be too much to consider this unit a true playoff contender.