Never thought I would say this about a team that started Alex Smith at quarterback, but the 49ers can play some ball.
After a 48-3 drubbing of Tampa Bay, San Francisco will come in to Detroit with a 4-1 record and a lot of confidence in their squad, led by new head coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh has his guys playing and working harder than Mike Singletary ever did, and that has me a little worried about this matchup.
The 49ers defense has improved immensely this year, and now ranks T-4th in rushing defense and second in scoring defense. That said, I think the Lions will still be able to move the football as the Niners don’t match up that well against the pass (13th in passing defense). Plus, the Lions have this guy named Calvin Johnson who I have heard is pretty good.
The main thing that concerns me is San Francisco’s ability to shut down the run game. Not that the Lions have relied on their rushing attack to win them games, but it is huge to be able to run the ball when necessary, and I don’t think the Lions will be able to do so this Sunday. If San Francisco can drop six or seven guys into coverage, it will make things much tougher on Matthew Stafford.
Ok, I know the Lions are the better team in this game especially at home. They have an offense that has provided a ton of excitement thus far and a great coaching staff that has kept them hard at work. Despite the short week for Detroit, I see no reason why head coach Jim Schwartz won’t have his troops fired up and ready to play Sunday.
Defensively, the Lions match up well against the 49ers run-heavy offense. Alex Smith has thrown only seven touchdown passes this season (Calvin has nine himself), and the key for the Lions will be stopping the run and forcing Smith to beat them. With the defensive line that Detroit has, I see them bottling up running back Frank Gore fairly well, although he is bound to have a few good runs as talented as he is. If the Lions can limit those big plays and force San Fran to air it out, they have a very good chance at winning this ball game.
The truth is that the Lions offense is good enough to score on anyone, while the 49ers offense isn’t. Yes, they just lit up Tampa, but that team has problems of their own right now, and the Lions have a far better defense. If the Lions can get on the board early and force Smith into a few bad decisions, the Lions could end up running away with this one.
I don’t see that happening, but I do see 6-0 in the Lions’ future. Detroit by a touchdown.