Surging into the offseason?
The Niners have climbed to fifth in the NFL in total offense after producing 1,415 yards in their last three games - the most yards produced by any team in the league during December. They also have produced 612 rushing yards and 119 points during that span. But all those numbers have done for San Francisco is put the Niners in a position to avoid a losing season in their finale. Despite the solid numbers the Niners will finish the season with on offense, they take a 7-8 record into Saturday's game, and Erickson never has had that kind of record with a team that has been so successful statistically. "My teams have always been productive stat-wise offensively over the years, but I've never been around anything like this," Erickson said. "Hopefully, that just happens once in your life." Behind the resurgent play of quarterback Jeff Garcia, the Niners have climbed into the league's top 10 in 10 offensive categories, including most points scored. Garcia leads the league in passer rating (125.3) and touchdown passes (8) during December, and he is third in passing yards (821) during that span. Garcia also has rushed for four touchdowns in December, and his passer rating for the month is the highest by an player since St. Louis' Kurt Warner in 2001. Garcia isn't the only one leading the production, of course. In the first three starts of his NFL career, Kevan Barlow has rushed for 393 yards the past three weeks and needs just 16 yards against the Seahawks to finish with 1,000 for the season. The Niners are one of just four NFL teams to have 2,000 yards rushing and 2,000 passing this season, and the balance and production the team has displayed this month is what Erickson and the organization envisioned when the team began the season with high expectations under its new head coach in September. "As I've said many times, I'm more comfortable with the terminology now and being able to relate to that," said Erickson, who inherited the team's previous West Coast offensive system and the team's previous offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp. "So, all that just takes time. Right now, particularly the last half of the season, it has been really good. We are in more of a comfort zone right now. But I don't think that takes a rocket scientist to see. It just evolves." In light of the offensive explosion the team is now enjoying, Erickson says he doesn't waste any energy thinking about what could have been during this tumultuous season. "You can't do that," he said. "As soon as you start looking back, you have problems. You look back to find out what you did wrong and correct those things, but you can't linger on the past." Erickson would rather start looking toward the future. He is optimistic about what's in store for the Niners, and that begins immediately with the Seahawks coming to town. "Sure," Erickson said. "I'm optimistic about this Saturday, first of all, and that productivity that we've had. Next year, we'll sit down and all talk about that after this game about where we are at and where we are going. We'll sit down and look at different things. We'll be so much better, as far as that aspect is concerned."
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