QUESTION OF THE WEEK: With a commanding lead in the NFC West and the second-best record in football,

Ben Paslaqua, Maroon-News Staff

The 49ers have come out of the wood­work this year and have surprised every­one, including their own fans with an impressive 8-1 start. Sadly, they are not real contenders.

Last Sunday, they squeaked out a 27- 20 win over the New York Giants but were statistically outplayed in just about every category. Sure, David Akers can’t seem to miss a field goal, but a team that relies on their kicker for a third of their points shows their offense’s inability to consis­tently get down the field. Quarterback Alex Smith has led the 49ers through six long seasons in San Francisco and it’s great to see his team finally coming together, but I would probably take the Green Bay Packers over the 49ers any day for the NFC title. That’s not to mention a host of AFC teams that would give the 49ers more than a run for their money. Expect to see San Francisco in the playoffs, a feat the franchise hasn’t accomplished in nearly a decade, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Niners are definitely Super Bowl pretenders, but keep an eye on the soon-to-be NFC West champions.

Ben Glassman, Maroon-News Staff

Defense wins championships. Even with quarterback Alex Smith having thrown for just 1,700 yards this season, the fact that the San Francisco 49ers have allowed the least points of any team in the NFL is enough to put them in play­off contention. The play of linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis – first and third in the league tackles, re­spectively – and cornerbacks Carlos Rog­ers and Tarell Brown has propelled the Niners to an astounding 8-1 record.

Though they have wins against the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Li­ons and, most recently, the Giants, the knock on the boys from the Bay has to be their schedule. They have yet to play a true Super Bowl contender and un­til they do, I’m not 100 percent sold on their championship possibilities. When they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15, I think the football world will get its best insight as to who the 49ers really are.

As it is now, I would have to say that the 49ers have somewhat of a shot at a Super Bowl appearance, but their lack of a true test against a team like Green Bay, Pittsburgh or New Orleans as well as the problem of the Packers lurking in the NFC Championship game doesn’t make them a legit contender.

Adam Settle, Maroon-News Staff

The 8-1 San Francisco 49ers are cruis­ing along right now after a 27-20 statement victory over the NFC East-leading New York Giants at home. The 49ers should go no worse than 13-3 this season, given that they don’t slip-up in the five games against the rest of that slop that is the NFC West. The 49ers have picked up other quality wins at Detroit, at Cincinnati and at Philadelphia along the way, but still have two more tests ahead of them, with a Thanksgiving show­down between the Harbaughs in Baltimore, and a Monday Night tilt with Pittsburgh at home.

Not all of the wins have been pretty, but the Niners have firmly established themselves as the number two seed in the NFC. Are they Super Bowl Contenders? Let me throw you a few names: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. Where does quarterback Alex Smith rank on this list of Super Bowl champion quarterbacks since 2003? Alex Smith has been looking more Brad Johnson-esque this year, managing games and making plays when it matters. However, the 2002 Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Bucs had a defense that allowed only 12.2 points per game. San Francisco’s run defense is good enough to plow through their division, but a No. 26-ranked pass defense combined with a methodical offense does not figure well in shootouts against the likes of teams like the Packers, Steelers and Patriots. I’m not put­ting my money on them just yet.