Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Lions vs. 49ers: 3 points of emphasis for San Francisco in Week 2

Sep 16, 2018 at 10:13 AM


The San Francisco 49ers prepare for their 2018 home opener against the Detroit Lions, looking to pull off their first victory of the season. If it happens, these three factors will need to go the Niners' way.


On a positive note, the San Francisco 49ers could have won a game they, for all intents and purposes, shouldn't have. This, of course, was their Week 1 24-16 loss on the road versus the Minnesota Vikings -- a team many peg to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LIII.

But the Niners lost, are now at 0-1 on the young season and are home to host the also-winless Detroit Lions in Week 2.

Both the 49ers and Lions had their share of mistake-riddled football last week. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tossed three interceptions in Minnesota, while Lions QB Matthew Stafford threw a whopping four picks before being relieved late in Detroit's home opener against the upstart New York Jets.

The Niners are currently listed as six-point favorites, according to Odds Shark. For that prediction to be met, the 49ers will have to meet these following points of emphasis.

Reestablish the Running Game


Going up against the Lions defense will be vastly different than that of the Vikings. Yet San Francisco struggled to get much of anything going, consistently, on the ground in Week 1. While the 49ers managed 90 yards in Minnesota, they averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and have a number skewed by a 14-yard long carry by running back Alfred Morris.

Morris also fumbled on the Vikings' 1-yard line, thwarting an excellent scoring chance.

On a positive note, the Lions didn't exactly do a great job stopping the Jets' rushing attack last week. New York running backs rushed for 102 yards on 10 carries.

Yes, that's 10.2 yards per carry. Simply put, the Lions edge contain didn't exist versus the Jets. And the 49ers should be able to take advantage.

Capitalize in the Red Zone


Well, the Niners weren't that good in the red zone last year either. In 2017, San Francisco finished 27th in red-zone touchdown efficiency, and that trend continued over into Week 1.

The 49ers were 1-of-4 in red-zone trips versus the Vikings. One of those was the Morris fumble, and the other two were field goals by kicker Robbie Gould. San Francisco's lone success within Minnesota's 25-yard line was wide receiver Dante Pettis' 22-yard touchdown reception from Garoppolo.

Detroit allowed a 1-of-4 red-zone mark to the Jets in Week 1 too, although one might easily argue the Vikings defense is a bit more potent than that of the Lions. Regardless, the 49ers will need to rely more on end-zone pay dirt instead of continued field-goal conversions.

Containing Lions Wide Receivers


Death, taxes and Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter calling a massively pass-happy offense -- three things guaranteed in this life.

Detroit attempted a mere 15 rushes in its Week 1 loss. And while some of those lowly ground-attack numbers can be attributed to the Lions falling behind early, San Francisco should expect Detroit to be awfully pass happy in Week 2.

This means adequately covering Lions wide receivers Kenny Golladay, Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. Golladay finished with 114 yards on seven receptions, while Tate nearly had 80 yards in Week 1 and added a touchdown as well.

The 49ers' trio of cornerbacks -- Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon and K'Waun Williams -- played mostly well against a strong bunch of Vikings wideouts in Week 1, although Witherspoon was beat by wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a touchdown.

San Francisco isn't faced with an easy task within its own secondary. But defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will be able to cheat back a bit, knowing his defenders won't have to handle the Lions running game that much in Week 1. And if that becomes a key factor playing to the Niners' advantage, along with the other focal points, we should see the 49ers 1-1 after two weeks of the 2018 season.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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