The Detroit Lions are far from favored in their matchup along the offensive line on Sunday. After an underwhelming preseason, they’re set to open against one of the most menacing defensive lines in the San Francisco 49ers. That’s especially bad news given that the Lions just lost their starting left tackle in Taylor Decker and have been forced to shuffle things around just four days before the game.
Bold prediction of the week: Penei Sewell doesn’t give up any sacks against the Niners
Hey, we call it bold prediction for a reason, right?
We still don’t know what the exact lineup of the offensive line will be come kickoff, but this will be a challenge regardless. Penei Sewell made a successful career out of playing left tackle, didn’t play at all in 2020, got drafted into Detroit, and was told to switch to right tackle. After the Decker injury, Sewell got some reps on the left side, but I can’t imagine the coaching staff would actually switch him over jus days before the first game.
To make matters worse, Sewell struggled noticeably throughout the preseason, namely in pass blocking. If he can hold his own against a team like the 49ers in the midst of offensive line roulette, then it’ll be quite the feat.
The single thread holding this bold prediction together is the potential loss of Javon Kinlaw. He’s probably not the first defensive lineman you think of when you think of the San Francisco 49ers, but he has quietly developed into one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. Kinlaw is currently listed at doubtful, with more on that from Erik Schlitt here.
Sewell won’t be playing on the interior, but a team as complex as the 49ers bring pressure from a lot of different places, including plenty of stunts and blitzes. Taking away one of their best defensive linemen should slow things down and potentially offer Sewell some extra help from his guards. Whether or not that’ll be enough to get him through the day with a clean quarterback is still to be determined.