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Sunday’s win against the New York Giants could have been a fluke, a one-off, a random win against a bad team signifying nothing for the 49ers.

Or, Sunday’s win could have been the culmination of a recent trend.

For the past three games, despite losing numerous starters to injury, such as wide receiver Pierre Garcon, free safety Jimmie Ward and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, the 49ers have made significant statistical strides in several key areas. The team may be improving.

Here’s a close look at the areas they’ve improved the most since Week 8.

Pass offense

Important stats: The first seven games, the offense averaged 220.9 passing yards per game and 9.7 yards per completion. These averages ranked 17th and 25th out of 32 teams, respectively.

The past three games, the offense has averaged 232.7 passing yards per game and 11.6 yards per completion. These averages both rank 14th in the NFL.

The main change here is the quarterback. Brian Hoyer, the starter for the first six games, tended to get rid of the ball quicker and check down more frequently. His replacement, C.J. Beathard, holds the ball longer and throws farther downfield.

Run offense

Important stats: The first seven games, the offense averaged 96 rushing yards per game and 4.3 yards per rush. These averages ranked 23rd and 12th in the NFL.

The past three games, the offense has averaged 114.3 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per rush. These averages rank 11th and fifth in the NFL.

Backup running back Matt Breida and quarterback C.J. Beathard are responsible for enhancing the run game. They’ve averaged 4.9 and 5.1 yards per carry the past three games, respectively. Starting tailback Carlos Hyde’s rushing yards per game and yards per carry have decreased.

Third-down offense

Important stats: The first seven games, the offense converted third downs into first downs 32.7 percent of the time, which ranked 29th in the NFL.

The past three games, the offense has converted third downs into first downs 38.6 percent of the time, which ranks 14th in the NFL.

This comes back to the quarterback change. Hoyer was throwing short of the first-down marker too often, averaging 4.8 yards per pass on third down. Beathard tends to throw past the first-down marker, and is averaging 7.2 yards per pass on third down.

Total offense

Important stats: The first seven games, the offense averaged 316.9 yards per game and 4.8 yards per play. These averages ranked 20th and 25th in the NFL.

The past three games, the offense has averaged 347 yards per game and 5.3 yards per play. These averages rank 14th and 15th in the NFL.

A number of things could factor into the offensive uptick, including the quarterback change, the rookies adjusting to the NFL and the players becoming more comfortable with Shanahan’s scheme.

Pass defense

Important stats: The first seven games, the defense allowed 11.6 yards per completion and a completion percentage of 64.7. These averages ranked 29th and 23rd in the NFL.

The past three games, the defense has allowed 10.7 yards per completion and a completion percentage of 61.6. These averages both rank 18th in the NFL.

Once rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and rookie free safety Adrian Colbert became major contributors, the pass defense improved. Those two have combined to record five pass breakups and one interception the past three games.

Third-down defense

Important stat: The first seven games, the defense allowed opposing offenses to convert third downs into first downs 49.5 percent of the time, which ranked last in the NFL.

The past three games, the defense has allowed opposing offenses to convert third downs into first downs 36.4 percent of the time, which ranks 15th in the NFL.

Earlier in the season, opposing offenses tended to target and exploit linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Ray Ray Armstrong on third downs. Recently, the 49ers replaced them with Reuben Foster and Brock Coyle, who are better in pass coverage than Bowman and Armstrong.

Total defense

Important stats: The first seven games, the defense allowed 393.1 yards per game and 5.6 yards per play. These averages ranked 28th and 26th in the NFL.

The past three games, the defense has allowed 348.7 yards per game and 5.2 yards per play. These averages rank 19th and 17th in the NFL.

The run-defense stats and the pass-rush stats have remained relatively constant this season. So the main difference for the defense recently has been the pass coverage, especially on third down, and one more thing.

Penalties

Important stat: The first seven games, the 49ers committed 8.3 penalties per game, which ranked 30th in the NFL.

The past three games, the 49ers have committed 6.7 penalties per game, which ranks 18th in the NFL.

Penalties were the 49ers’ biggest issue earlier this season.

Penalties by the offense that ended drives, and penalties by the defense that extended drives for the other team.

Stats show the 49ers are becoming more disciplined, which is allowing the young players and the young coaches to showcase their talent.

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