The 49ers are undefeated. And they’re tied for the lead in the NFC West.

Of course, their season hasn’t started yet.

But that’s not how the team sees it. This is clearly a group that believes they have what it takes to put in some serious racing this year. And they don’t hesitate to say it.

Sunday may be the first game, but they already have the confidence of the first.

The Press Democrat’s Inside the 49ers blog

A visit to the locker room this week found a room full of good humor and laughter. The players were happy to talk to reporters. Everyone seemed happy to be there.


Jimmy Garoppolo, the former and future QB, made a discreet entrance. After the first swarms of reporters registered, I noticed he was alone and approached.

I have to say, for someone who has been the constant subject of rumors, trade talks and speculation, he seemed remarkably cold. It’s Jimmy Zen.

“Things have a way of working, you know?” he said with a shrug.

And familiarity with the team must have been a factor in the decision to return?

“Oh yeah,” Garoppolo said, “the players, the coaches, the system, it all played a role.”

And you don’t have to start over in a new city.

“I already did that when I was traded here,” he said. “And it’s been a whirlwind.”

Especially since Garoppolo was traded to the 49ers halfway through the 2017 regular season. He had to move, find a place to live and adapt to a new city.

“While learning a playbook,” he quipped.

So in general, everything seems fine in Jimmy-world. As he says, he is not only happy.

“I’m excited.”

Meanwhile, we of the gossip class are diligently looking for any hint of friction between Garoppolo and his heir Trey Lance.

It’s not easy for a young man, with limited experience, to meet high expectations and brutal scrutiny.

Yet, as Kyle Shanahan keeps reminding us, “Jimmy also went through tough times. All eyes will be on this guy.

And Garoppolo was a stoic, low drama. So that’s what is expected.

Lance has been better than fine in the spotlight so far. He genuinely engages with an emergent sense of humor.

Yet it is the duty of the media to try to find the conflict. This week the topic was that Lance, despite being QB1, was not elected as one of the six team captains.

Shanahan said Lance was seventh in the vote and Deebo Samuel was eighth. (I’d be more interested to know why all that Samuel didn’t get the votes. Residual of his contract drama?)

Naturally, Lance was asked if he was disappointed not to be nominated?

“No,” he said. “Obviously, that’s one of my goals. But I don’t think you can look at six of these guys and say, “This guy is a bozo.” I voted for each of these guys. So I think every one of them deserves it.

You can’t handle it much better than that. (Additional points for “bozo”.)

Now, about that clarification…

It’s a very small sample, and arguably unfair, but I’ve seen it pitch a good deal when I was there. He completed some nice ones in the middle, but three stood out.

He jumped a short one, hitting the ground. He airlifted the receiver about a second. And third, on a sideline pattern, he led the way so much that even when the receiver went into a full lunge, he was barely able to put his fingertip on the ball.

(Lance’s struggles with the sideline throws are a trending topic among pro practice watchers.)

But the thing is, they’re not duds. These are bullets that no one can catch.

And this is the reality. All the sharp-headed football pundits can try to predict the future and tell us what Lance is going to be like. But the only way to know is to check back after Game 6 and see where we are.

Lance may be judged by an old baseball truism. He says a caster can knock you out the first three times you face him. But on the fourth time, if you hit a home run, you win.

Lance may struggle, but if he hits one big per game, he’ll stand up to criticism.

We’ll see. In the meantime, let the good times roll. At the dawn of the season, it’s a loud and cheerful group, full of confidence and fun. And no one tells them to keep their voices down.

Improbably, there’s a full-size basketball post in the middle of the locker room. The players stand at the door, probably 25 feet away, and throw punches. If you didn’t know better, given the noise and reactions, you might imagine money changing hands.

The only minor issue is that offensive lineman Blake Hance, who was only signed last week, got the locker next to the hoop. He has to get dressed while risking getting kicked by stray basketballs.

“Day one I had my head on a pivot,” he said.

Now, of course, there is a simple solution. Tell the hoopsters, “Hey guys, can you play when it’s not crowded?”

No. Instead, Hance’s locker now has a transparent plastic extension on it, a small two-foot-wide barrier for some protection.

“He wasn’t here yesterday,” he said. “I am grateful.”

Everything to keep having fun. The irrepressible swagger of this team carries the promise of a great year.

Or, to be fair, it could be a year of unexpected disappointments, untimely injuries and fan outrage.

We don’t know which one it will be. All that remains is to wait for the season to unfold.

It starts on Sunday.

Contact CW Nevius at [email protected] Twitter: @cwnevius