San Francisco appears on track in 2009 to have the lowest murder rate in nearly 50 years.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief George Gascon announced Tuesday that homicides in the city have dropped from 98 in 2008 to 45 so far this year. If that number stands, it would the city's lowest homicide rate since 1961.

Overall, Newsom and Gascon say violent crime, a category that includes rapes and aggravated assaults, is down 10 percent from 2008, as hot spots such as the city's Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhood and Mission district are seeing double-digit declines.

Newsom credited more targeted policing efforts for the decline in crime.