The last time these two teams met, the country talked about the controversial handshake between head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz. That wasn’t the topic of interest this time around.
The topic was simply the game and how the 49ers won their home opener at Candlestick 27-19 over the Detroit Lions. The theme of the night for the 49ers was much like every one of their games with just conservative play calls on offense while using that defense to smother the other team limiting them to mainly field goals. Alex Smith had a good game throwing 20/31 with 226 passing yards and 2 TD passes. As for the head coaches, they just had a couple mild handshakes before and after the game.
The 49ers defense shined against another good passing attack for a 2nd week in a row. QB Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions offense had trouble getting the ball into the redzone. Lions’ Kicker Jason Hanson kicked 4 field goals (did miss one) and Detroit didn’t score a TD until 1:29 left in the game and they were still down by 8. They then failed to get a unique onside kick as 49ers return man Kyle Williams fell on the ball to seal the game.
The Lions seemed more even in their play calls as they ran the ball quite a few times. They ultimately got 82 yards in 26 carries as a team.There were a few times the run got to the 49ers but overall the run game of Detroit was contained.
As for their passing attack, the Lions weren’t up to par for another week. They often had to settle for underneath routes that didn’t always move the chains what with WR Calvin Johnson being covered often by a corner short and a safety deep. Often their passing attack failed to convert in 49ers territory and they kept settling for field goals. Calvin Johnson had 8 catches for 94 yards and his longest catch was for 26 yards.
The other receivers for the Lions didn’t have a good day. They dropped balls and often had 49er defenders disrupting passes. It could’ve been a different game if some of those catches were made. Whether it was Calvin Johnson or someone else, the 49er defenders like Linebacker Patrick Willis got to the ball carrier quickly to stop the play. Willis had 9 tackles in the game.
Matthew Stafford has had better days. He went 19/32 for 230 yards, a TD pass, a INT, and sacked twice. It was the second week in a row that Stafford looked inconsistent as he had a rough start vs. the Rams last week. That interception was caught by Safety Deshon Goldson as Stafford overthrew WR Titus Young. It would cost the Lions points as Frank Gore ran in a simple 1 yard TD run to start the 2nd quarter after a running into the kicker penalty and a pass interference call, both called on the Lions.
As for the 49ers, they moved the ball effectively with both the pass and the run. The rushing attack was once again led by Frank Gore who ran 17 times for 89 yards and a TD in the 2nd quarter after a Stafford INT. He ran for quite a few big runs as he had 5 runs of at least 10 yards throughout the game. The 49ers as a team ran for 148 yards in 27 attempts.
The passing game worked hand-in-hand with the run. Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree highlighted the aerial attack with good performances. Vernon Davis scored the first TD and points of the game bursting past the defense for a 21 yard TD catch in the first quarter. He also had another TD catch late in the 4th quarter which basically sealed the win. He caught a dump pass and made an impressive juke move which fooled three Detroit defenders to put the 49ers up by 15 with 3:04 to go. Vernon Davis had 5 catches for 73 yards and those 2 TDs.
Michael Crabtree was a key receiver in the game, especially on that 4th quarter scoring drive. Crabtree caught the ball 3 times on that drive for 34 yards. Each catch were 3rd down conversions and kept the clock ticking and out of the hands of Matthew Stafford. Crabtree had 6 catches for 67 yards in the game.
Alex Smith looked poised throughout as he just took what the defense gave him and didn’t make many risky passes. Smith could’ve had more passing yards and completions if it wasn’t for a few dropped passes but it was still a good game from him and the receivers.
The 49ers had no turnovers on offense but Kendall Hunter fumbled the ball in the 1st quarter. Fortunately for San Francisco, the defense held together again and the Lions had to settle for 3.
As for the replacement referees, there were not many bad calls in this one. There was perhaps one instance where the 49ers caught a break on a drive at the end of the 1st quarter. Time ran out in the quarter about a half second before the play was snapped and inevitably pass interference was called on Lions Cornerback Jacob Lacey on a throw intended for WR Randy Moss. That put the ball at the DET 1 yard line which set up Frank Gore scoring his TD on the next play.
Randy Moss had a mild day as he caught the ball one time for 14 yards. He was only targeted that time statistically speaking.
Another 8 point win for the 49ers makes them 2-0 on the season and leaves many wondering if they are the best team in the NFL. Through the first two games, the 49ers are showing that they can defend against passing teams and that they still have that great rush defense. That San Francisco offense, meanwhile, continues to flow making smart plays and not turning the ball over. That offense hasn’t turned the ball over yet this season.
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Written by Daniel Trucios