Though the 49ers' last two seasons ended with NFC Championship Game appearances, both had something else in common -- the team was slow out the gate, with San Francisco starting 2-4 in 2021 and 3-4 in 2022.
This season, the 49ers set out with the intention to correct that trend and put plenty of wins on the board right away. So far, so good.
As the team enters Week 4 with a 3-0 record, wide receiver Jauan Jennings pinpointed what has been different this season, complete with a perfect Deion Sanders reference.
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"Just being together longer. This year, we got to spend more time together," Jennings told reporters Monday. "OTAs and training camp -- this training camp was a little bit harder this year. I think that has a lot to do with it. The leadership that we have, just being constantly reminded that we can’t start slow this year.
"As Deion [Sanders] says, we took that personally."
Jennings was referencing Sanders' speech to his Colorado team two weeks ago, when the coach said Colorado State's Jay Norvell made things "personal" when discussing Sanders' press conference attire.
The 49ers, on the other hand, appear to have taken their own previous actions personally.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco now is one of three undefeated teams left in the NFL after its Week 3 win over the New York Giants, along with the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins. The 49ers have scored exactly 30 points in each victory, breaking offensive records along the way under second-year quarterback Brock Purdy.
Purdy, the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, is in his first full season as a starter and has yet to lose a game in which he plays at least three quarters. Another difference-maker this time around is All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, who came to San Francisco at last season's trade deadline.
Isaiah Oliver, a defensive back with the Atlanta Falcons in 2022 and now on the 49ers, wasn't around for San Francisco's previous start-of-season woes. But it isn't difficult for the corner to see why his new team has started off so hot.
"I think it’s just being in the moment, focusing on where your feet are," Oliver told reporters Monday. "That’s kind of been one of the biggest things that I’ve heard guys talk about -- not looking too far ahead, not looking back. Just being right here every day, attacking every day like it’s our last.
“That’s kind of been their M.O. Our leaders, our captains on this team, they’re going stress that. They understand that’s the standard. That’s the way we have to play the game -- without thinking about playoffs or the future or anything like that. We’re just thinking about every day, every week and attacking that.”
One win can make all the difference, as last season showed. Early losses to the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos in 2022 ultimately cost San Francisco the conference's No. 1 seed -- plus the first-round bye and home-field advantage in the NFC title game that would have come with it.
But as Oliver said, the 49ers are taking things this season one week at a time. They'll look to keep things rolling this weekend when the Arizona Cardinals visit Levi's Stadium on Sunday for an NFC West clash.