After Alex Smith said that the 2012 San Francisco 49ers are a better team than last year's historic squad that lost in the NFC Championship game, CSN Bay Area's Nate Stuhlbarg asked around the locker room to find out if the quarterback's teammates agreed.
For the most part, they did. Said center Jonathan Goodwin:
"I think we're better as a team this year. I just think as far as the games we lost, we had some missed assignments so that played a part in us going 6-2. Every year is different, we just lost more games at this point than we did last year."
Many of the players asked to evaluate Smith's opinion said that the added offensive weaponry was one reason to call the 2012 version better than the 2011 team. And with a second full season under head coach Jim Harbaugh, the offense and defense are both more familiar with the playbook as well.
The numbers back the belief up as well. Stuhlbarg notes that San Francisco is on pace to upend some major statistical categories on both sides of the ball.
The only number that won't look better is the win total. The 49ers are on pace to lose one more regular season game than last season's 13-3 squad, but records won't matter much so long as they hold off the offensively inept NFC West teams in Seattle and Arizona.