Not even 81 points and 1,083 yards in two games is enough to impress the San Francisco 49ers. They expect more from their dynamic offense.
That might seem unimaginable for most teams, but these are the 49ers, who built a reputation by tearing apart defenses for nearly two decades.Putting up numbers that are downright staggering, the 49ers (2-0) have rolled to an imposing start with a stylish attack. It's already drawing comparisons to the Joe Montana glory days in the 1980s and the Steve Young-led 1994 Super Bowl team.
"It seems familiar. It seems like old times," said Young, who launched his bid for a record seventh passing title with the best start of his 14-year career. "`We're back to where we have the weapons and we have the wherewithal and the coach is making the calls."
It's not just the passing of Young (666 yards and six touchdowns in victories over the New York Jets and Washington Redskins). And it's not just Jerry Rice's return from two serious knee injuries, or the coming together of the offensive line.
It's also Terrell Owens and J.J. Stokes, who combine with Rice to give the 49ers a triple threat at wide receiver that is taxing on any defense - and unmatched even in 49ers annals.
Then there's Garrison Hearst. Once driven out of Arizona by Buddy Ryan as a bust, Hearst has given the 49ers a powerful rushing attack. He has a league-leading 325 yards, the most in the opening two games in team history and the best two-game start in the NFL in the 1990s.
Marc Edwards has stepped in capably at fullback for William Floyd, who left as a free agent for Carolina. Irv Smith and Greg Clark give the 49ers a 1-2 receiving-and-blocking punch at tight end following the retirement of Brent Jones.
"We're happy where we are offensively," said coach Steve Mariucci, whose team has a bye Sunday after running up more than 500 yards in each of its wins for the first time since 1961.
"It's a lot of fun, because what we've been doing is trying to be creative and unpredictable and varied in our formations and protections and pass routes. It's not a case where if one guy is covered, then your chances aren't so good. Every skill guy we have is capable of making plays and being pro-duc-tive."
Indeed, six different players scored touchdowns against Washington, the first time that's happened for the 49ers since 1993.
"Provided we stay healthy and provided our defense remains very good and can get opposing offenses off the field and the ball into our hands, we've got a chance to be very, very explosive," Mariucci said.
The 81 points are the Niners' most to start a season. The 49ers are on pace to become the highest scoring team in club history. San Francisco scored 505 points in 1994, when it won the most recent of its five Super Bowls.
"I'd hate to be a defensive coordinator trying to decide what you're going to stop," tackle Derrick Deese said. "If you try to stop our run game, the passing is going to be there. If you try to stop the pass, the run is going to be there.
"With three wide receivers, we can spread everybody out. That leaves the inside of a defense a little weak and gives us room to maneuver. If we keep doing the things we're doing, I think the only thing that can stop us is ourselves."
The contrast is startling from last year, when the 49ers ran more than they passed and were the only team in the league without a 100-yard receiver. They plunged to 12th in offense after being at or near the top for more than a dec-ade.
"We wanted to step it up a notch and when I say that, I don't mean going up a notch from 12th to 11th," Mariucci said. "We want to go back to the top, where, you know what, the 49ers have the best offense around."
Of course, Rice missed most of last season with two serious injuries to his left knee, and Mariucci stressed the run to better protect the concussion-prone Young and take pressure off young wideouts Owens and Stokes.
But last year's struggle is turning into this year's success story. Young is healthy and Rice quickly is regaining the form that made him the NFL's greatest receiver.