Around the NFC West: How things change

Let's go way back in NFC West history to Monday of last week.

"49ers team to beat," the headline read.

Around the NFC West: Oct. 16, 2012

That item featured links to stories chronicling the San Francisco 49ers' dominance after the team outscored its previous two opponents, the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, by a 79-3 margin.

One link referred to "evil genius" offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Another checked in with surging quarterback Alex Smith, who had enjoyed a nearly perfect weekend by throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game prior to leading a record-setting performance against the Bills.

"Defense good, too," another read.

There were also items asking whether the 49ers had beaten the Buffalo Bills into submission, essentially forcing them to tap out, or quit.

A week later, the 49ers' subsequent 26-3 home defeat to the New York Giants has changed ... what?

The 49ers have little time to consider the question. They've got the Seattle Seahawks visiting Candlestick Park on Thursday night for what figures to be an extremely physical game.

Defensive intensity marked NFC West matchups beginning last season. That trend is only going to intensify in 2012 because the defenses are better throughout the division.

I'll be back shortly with a look at just how much better those defenses have become.