SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers' defense is one game away from setting an NFL record for fewest rushing touchdowns allowed in a season.But the San Francisco offense is also on the verge of carving out a spot in the NFL record book, too.The 49ers have not committed a turnover in the past 18 quarters. They have committed only 10 turnovers this season. If they make it through Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams without giving the ball away, the 49ers will tie the NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season.The New England Patriots set the mark last year with 10. The 1982 Kansas City Chiefs committed 12 turnovers.And that leads us into our first question from the 49ers Mailbag . . .
Do you think the offense will open up during the playoffs? (Mike Brown Sr.)
If that occurs, something will have gone terribly wrong for the 49ers, and their playoff stay will be a short one.After 15 games, it's very apparent what works for the 49ers. And a wide-open, spread-'em-out, throw-the-ball-around-the-field approach is not the formula.Quarterback Alex Smith is not going to be throwing for 350 yards a game in the playoffs. But what he can do is to continue to do what he has done this season. He's been one of the best in league history at avoiding turnovers.Smith has thrown five interceptions and lost just two fumbles on the season. The 49ers lead the NFL with a plus-26 turnover margin.Do you ever envision the defense switching to a 4-3 to utilize the strengths of Aldon Smith and get him on the field more? (Shawn Joseph)
No, because I think the 49ers believe that Aldon Smith is eventually going to be better-suited to standing up as an outside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has a long history in the 3-4 defense, so he's not going to change overnight.And where the 49ers really succeeded this season was allowing Smith to ease into the transition. The coaches had him concentrate as a rookie on rushing the passer as a defensive end. During practices and some game situations, he worked on his techniques as an outside linebacker, too. He played 10 snaps of outside linebacker last week against Seattle when Ahmad Brooks was out with an elbow injury.Look for Smith to start next season as outside linebacker. Brooks is a free agent, so his return is not guaranteed. But if Brooks is back, there's a strong chance Smith would take over for Parys Haralson as the every-down guy.Any word on Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson deals for next season? (David Caracas)
Nothing is going to happen until after the season. Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson are likely to hit the open market. Both are going to be looking for the kind of free-agent love that they did not get a year ago.Hey, let's face it, Rogers and Goldson were very disappointed with what occurred in free agency. Rogers signed a one-year contract after looking for a lucrative multi-year deal. Goldson was said to be looking for "Eric Weddle money." Their stock is high right now.Both Rogers and Goldson want to remain with the 49ers. But the 49ers are trying to follow the mold of the New England Patriots -- a franchise that does not regularly compete with the over-spenders in the league. Rogers and Goldson might have to make sacrifices to return to the 49ers.I think there's a better chance Goldson re-signs. If Rogers leaves, the 49ers feel pretty good about Tarell Brown and Chris Cullliver as the starters with Tramaine Brock as the No. 3. Then, they can add a Carlos Rogers-esque veteran who slips through the cracks while also investing a draft pick in a corner, too.