San Francisco is a place in northern California. The charming beauty is marred with hostile technology and dangerous modernity. To the south lies Santa Clara, where the 49ers now roam, content to search for gold and hidden treasures of the earth. Some say they play football on Sunday. A curious people, indeed.
To help understand their ways as the Detroit Lions stumble into their saloon, I spoke with David Fucillo from Niners Nation. Rather than our usual 5 Questions, he proposed a new game. I already answered his own questions early in the week. Now, he tells us why the 49ers will win/lose/
draw on Sunday.
Why the 49ers will win
The 49ers offense struggled to get things going in Week 1, but considering the Minnesota Vikings present one of the best defenses in the league, fans were not exactly stunned. Jimmy Garoppolo made some mistakes, with two of his interceptions on him, and one on a bad route by his receiver. It was his worst game in six starts with the 49ers, and if they’re going to beat Detroit, they’ll need a solid game from him. They won’t need a monster game, but a solid 200-250 yards passing with a couple touchdowns and no interceptions would seem to do the trick. That would of course need to be coupled with a solid performance from the ground game. If Alfred Morris gets going running the ball, and Matt Breida and Kyle Juszczyk offer something as pass catchers, this is a game the 49ers will win.
On defense, the 49ers best chance might be taking advantage of T.J. Lang’s potential absence. The Lions did not give up a sack last week, but the guard positions seem shaky at best. DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas will be the guys to watch on the inside when the 49ers are in passing downs. I think Buckner and Armstead in particular are the two who could have the most success getting after the quarterback from the inside. The 49ers secondary has had its ups and downs, but if the defensive line has Matthew Stafford uncomfortable, that could do the trick.
Why the 49ers will lose
The big problem for the offense is the offensive line. They are going to actually be on their FOURTH right guard this season. Their starter and backup got hurt last week, and they were forced to move rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey inside to guard. This weekend, rookie guard Najee Toran is likely to get the start so McGlinchey can remain at his natural tackle position. That will be an area for the Lions to exploit from the defensive interior. If the 49ers cannot find success behind Toran and McGlinchey on the right side, and are forced to focus their offense to the left like they had to against Minnesota, things could go south in a hurry.
The 49ers defense got some pressure on Kirk Cousins last week, but they lack edge rushers that can offer consistent pressure. DeForest Buckner had 2.5 sacks last week and Arik Armstead was regularly in Minnesota’s backfield, but they are unlikely to be as productive every week as we saw in Week 1. If that happens, the 49ers secondary could find itself in trouble. Richard Sherman looked solid in his first regular season game since Achilles surgery last year, but his speed will be a concern. The Lions have a strong trio of receivers that will present a significant challenge, especially with the 49ers potentially without starting free safety Adrian Colbert, due to a hamstring injury. I expect the Lions to challenge the 49ers deep early and often, and if Detroit finds success there, this becomes a very winnable game for them.