Even without Frank Gore, the 49ers managed to pull away a win from the Giants who have made their mark this season with late-game scores, and San Francisco was a Justin Smith batted ball away from possibly falling into that same category.
It was the biggest win of the season for the 49ers, who also have wins against the Lions and Eagles to add to their big win against New York on Sunday.
However, many are not convinced this team is legitimate, as was plain to see watching the numerous Monday morning quarterback shows on television.
Why is San Francisco not the overwhelming favorite as the No. 2 team in the NFL?
The Bears have something to do with that after dominating the Lions on Sunday. Even the 49ers' remaining schedule can take some credit. And that may be the problem, or the only thing stopping Harbaugh and the 49ers from being called the game's elite.
So far, San Francisco's signature wins have come against the Eagles, Lions and Giants, but it was the recent developments that have many second guessing just how signature these wins are.
The Bears beat down the Lions after the 49ers just scathed by in Week 6, the Eagles lost to the Cardinals and fell to 3-6 and the Giants were on the road without their starting running back.
It is going to take a lot to have the Monday morning quarterbacks across the country call this team a legit contender. Maybe, just maybe, the rest of the 49ers' schedule will prove that.
But how really proven is this team from San Francisco?
The references three paragraphs up are on the table, and even their narrow victories against the Browns, Bengals and Redskins seem to portray a team just getting by with a serviceable quarterback and gritty defense.
In the end, it will be key match-ups with the AFC's elite that ultimately shows us what kind of a team this really is and what kind of respect they will get Monday morning.
Thanksgiving Day is the first step on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, who will be a playoff team and will attempt to have a field day with their relentless defense. The second and last step comes at home against the Steelers on December 19. A statement game if there ever was one.
Until then, we can expect the Monday morning quarterback to talk all about how this team cannot possibly be the second best team in the NFL, even though their record stands far and above the next best competition. A first-year head coach plays into that analyst's opinion, as does Alex Smith under center
There is zero chance they will give any consideration to a team with Smith at the helm. However, they may miss the key fact that Harbaugh is pulling the strings, Harbaugh is making Smith look good and Harbaugh is in control.
Without that thinking, the 49ers are a surprise team making moves deep into the playoffs. But this team has been here all along. They just didn't get the credit for it.