SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Jonathan Goodwin offers some perspective in the San Francisco 49ers' locker room.
He won 13 straight games to start the season with the New Orleans Saints two years ago. Then they dropped their final three before going on to capture the franchise's lone Super Bowl title.
"We lost the last three games going into the playoffs, so that kind of calmed everything down a little bit," said Goodwin, the 49ers' first-year center in his 10th NFL season.
That's why Goodwin guards against getting overly excited about the current seven-game winning streak by San Francisco (8-1) - even with a commanding five-game lead in the NFC West and Arizona coming to town today having lost four straight in the series. The Cardinals (3-6) managed only 13 total points over the previous two meetings.
"It definitely feels good to be winning, but there are still seven games left before the postseason even starts," Goodwin said. "In this league, you can't get ahead of yourself."
The Saints realized early in 2009 it could be a special season. The 49ers sure hoped that would be the case for them this year despite the lockout slowing that process after San Francisco hired coach Jim Harbaugh away from nearby Stanford.
Yet nobody could have envisioned the Niners being nearly this good - as in one 27-24 overtime loss to Dallas in Week 2 from being unbeaten.
Whether he says it or not, Harbaugh has changed the culture for this franchise and brought back memories of the dynasty days and those five Super Bowl rings won in the 1980s and '90s.
"I don't think you create an identity. I think you become it," Harbaugh said. "You become what you are. You become your identity. From my standpoint, being around these guys, this team, these coaches, it's the team, the team, the team. It's about the team."
It has been that way for this group since well before the season opener back on Sept. 11 against Seattle. That was the last time the streaking 49ers were tested by a divisional opponent, and they whipped the Seahawks 33-17 in Harbaugh's NFL debut.