Niners note: San Francisco has not allowed a 100-yard rusher since November 2009. Teams that both can run and can stop the run can be hard to deal with -- witness the 6-1 Forty Niners.
Although many people like to point out the Niners play in the lowly NFC West, this is not the reason for their good record. In fact, they haven't even played Arizona or St. Louis yet. Of their 6 wins, 4 have come against above-average or even strong teams: Lions, Tampa, Cincinnati, Eagles. Also, the only loss was in overtime against Dallas in a game that easily could have gone our way.
Forget all the stats, etc. I think the Niners are good because they formed an identity. It is the first time they've been successful in the post-Bill Walsh era with a new kind of identity. It took us a long time. Joe Montana-Steve Young-Jeff Garcia, we were a west-coast offense, pass first kind of team. In our a good years, we had a sneaky good defense, but that was never our identity. Now, we are a stop-the-run team. We beat other teams up with our front 7. That is our identity. We minimize mistakes on offense, that is our identity. We run straight forward schemes to develop mismatches on offense and don't ask Alex Smith to do too much. You can see it in the type of players who succeed on the team - Patrick Willis, Frank Gore - these guys are our key guys. We don't key on Alex Smith or Vernon Davis or Crabtree - although there are arguments we could do so. We used to key on Joe Montana and then Young and then Terrell Owens. We play to our strengths and are benefitting from fewer elite NFL teams this year.
Those following the Niners ought to be inspired. Think of the odds. Last year, we were absolutely terrible. But with the simple addition of Harbaugh, we were able to turn things around rapidly. Anyone who has ever been down in life or feeling bad out to take heart - it can inspire one to think maybe they aren't too far off if they are able to make some simple conceptual changes, just be a little more disciplined, focus on executing just a little better, emphasizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses, doing the little things right and getting a bit of luck and things can turn around quick. I dunno - makes me think a lot of things are possible, even getting out of this lame recession and all that.