Through eight games this season – at 6-2 entering its Week 9 bye – the 49ers are exactly where they were a season ago.
It's an awfully enviable position.
But it bears asking: How different is the San Francisco squad that has won five straight games from the iteration that started this season 1-2?
Let's say this: There were warning signs that 2013 wasn't going to go as well as '12.
"That's from the outside," left tackle Joe Staley said postgame Sunday. "A lot of people on the outside were having questions… The character of this team and the group of guys that we have, nobody was pointing fingers, nobody was panicking.
"That short week helped us – we playing on Thursday night (in Week 3 at St. Louis) after that second loss."
At 1-2 before that Sept. 26 victory, the 49ers were looking up at a 3-0 Seattle Seahawks team. Now the 49ers trail their NFC West equal by a single game.
"I think we're a lot better team. But, no question, I felt like we were a good team then," inside linebacker Joe Staley said. "I just think we're really focused in, understand what's at stake, understand what we have to do to keep on keeping ourselves in the right position.
"We all understand what this is about; it's about winning. Eventually it will come down to an important game."
For more storylines surrounding the team, check out this edition of Morning Tailgate links, presented by State Farm.
Bill Williamson of ESPN.com used stats to show Frank Gore's improvement at age 30.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed toward the 49ers reloading their roster.
Kevin Lynch of SFGate.com* *argued that offensive coordinator Greg Roman deserved a game ball in London.
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News* *wrote that the bye week is coming at the perfect time.
Taylor Price of 49ers.com* *featured the Colin Kaepernick-Frank Gore connection.
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