2007 training camp: Numbers that must improve

It has been a while since the numbers added up positively for the 49ers. Numbers aren't everything, but if the team is to reach its goal of returning to the NFC playoffs in 2007, here is a list of key numbers the Niners need to improve upon when they begin the training camp grind on Sunday to make the playoffs a realistic possibility this season.

VICTORIES: Of course. Seven, like last year, won't make it to the playoffs. Nine or 10 probably will. It has now been five years since the 49ers recorded more than seven victories in a season, including a two-year dip between 2004-2005 when the team totaled just six wins combined.

POINTS ALLOWED: The Niners were scored upon last season more than any other NFL team, with their 412 points allowed ranking as the seventh-highest total in the franchise's 62-year history. San Francisco is coming off a three-year stretch in which it has allowed a whopping 1,292 points, including 452 in 2004 and 428 in 2005. No NFL team makes the playoffs when their opponents light up the scoreboard as consistently as that.

THIRD-DOWN EFFICIENCY: The 49ers ranked 26th in the league in this department at 34.4 percent, and that's a figure that needs to get considerably better for the team to make progress offensively. The inability to convert on third down resulted in the 49ers ranking 29th in the NFL in first downs while controlling the clock for only 28 minutes, 37 seconds per game - almost three full minutes fewer than their opponents.

RED ZONE EFFICIENCY: Speaking of figures that need to get better for the offense to make progress … The 49ers ranked 29th in the NFL last season while scoring touchdowns just 41.7 percent of the time they got inside their opponent's 20-yard line.

TOTAL YARDS: We're talking both gained and allowed. The 49ers ranked 26th in the NFL last season in both total offense and total defense, and they were 29th in passing yards and 26th in passing yards allowed.

PUNT-RETURN AVERAGE: The 49ers allowed opponents to average a whopping 13.2 yards on 35 punt returns last year – the only other area besides points allowed that the team ranked last in the NFL among 34 statistical categories recorded by the league.

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