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Lions vs. 49ers stock report: 11 movers after NFC Championship collapse

Check out your final movers for the week.

NFC Championship - Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

I went into this game knowing it wasn’t going to be painful. I was certain. The Detroit Lions had made an improbable turnaround and I was excited to be watching them just minutes from the Super Bowl. I assumed it wasn’t going to be painful because the Lions team I know executes. They may have schematic issues, or play calling issues, but they don’t let me down by not doing their job — not under Dan Campbell.

Somehow, that’s exactly what happened. The best team did not win on Sunday, and it was nobody but the Lions’ fault. And now, it hurts. Let’s check out movers for the week:

Stock down: Josh Reynolds, WR

Stats: 1 reception (4 targets), 25 yards

Man, this was a tough one for Reynolds. Two brutal drops—the first on a fourth down and the second on a third down—completely ended drives for the Lions. In short, he was more of a liability on the field Sunday than an asset.

It’s a brutal way to end the season for Reynolds, who has emerged quite firmly as ole reliable for Jared Goff, if nothing else. Reynolds’ toe taps and sure hands were always an escape hatch and would answer when called upon to keep the Lions offense going. Sunday, in uncharacteristic fashion, Reynolds couldn’t answer the call, and it was one of numerous pieces that may have cost the Lions a trip to the Super Bowl.

Stock up: Jared Goff, QB

Stats: 25/41, 273 yards, 1 TD

The Lions’ skill positions chose a horrendous game to melt down around Jared Goff, because this just might have been Goff’s best game as a Lion. He was making his usual good throws, but we saw so much more diversity in how he worked with the football. Goff kept his eyes downfield for several deep shots, which were perfect throws when he didn’t have defenders in his face. He also did a tremendous job avoiding pressure from collapsing pockets where he normally would have folded for a sack, and had several off-platform throws while on the move.

Goff aged like a fine wine into the playoffs, and put up his best performance of the season when it mattered most. Unfortunately, not everyone was up for the challenge.

Stock neutral: Jameson Williams, WR

Stats: 2 receptions (3 targets), 25 yards, 1 TD, 1 rush, 42 yards, 1 TD

Jameson Williams had arguably his most statistically impressive performance on Sunday, but his one flaw is the fatal one that keeps him from a stock up here. Of course, Jamo had the opening touchdown run where he displayed great balance to part the sea of red en route to the end zone, and a touchdown grab in the back of the end zone on the last offensive drive to keep the Lions in it. In between those two, however, Jamo saw a perfectly executed trick play pass sail right through his open arms.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen seven points slip (literally) through Williams’ arms this season. It’s a continuing trend displaying an inability to track the deep ball, which is such an inopportune flaw given Jamo’s skillset. Ultimately, though, the Lions were able to leverage Jamo’s speed against the Niners into two touchdowns on just three touches, a noteworthy contribution for the sophomore.

Stock down: Dan Campbell, HC

Let me be very clear with my decision to give Campbell this grade: I have no quarrels with his fourth down decisions. Those were the right calls, he trusts his team to execute, and they did not execute. Those failures were not coaching failures.

My quarrel with Campbell from Sunday stems from his timeout usage to end the game. I’m still shocked I’m writing this, because Campbell has impressed me mightily with his time management since he arrived in Detroit. For Campbell to use his first timeout with just a minute left was mind-boggling. At that point, you’ve taken away any chance of a defensive stop and are hedging your bets on an onside kick. Even if the clock runs after the third-and-goal run, and you waste, say, 20 seconds to line up and run a fourth down play, you’re left with three timeouts and about 45 seconds on the clock. That means you have the options of an onside kick or a defensive stop, rather than just the kick, and could have gotten the ball back with around 25 seconds left.

I’m not saying it was probable; this was obviously a very long shot. However, when your only other shot is an onside kick, which has had less than a five percent success rate in the NFL this season, you take every bit of help you can get.

Stock up: Kindle Vildor, CB

Stats: 6 tackles

Don’t look now, but I think Vildor quietly had his best game as a Lion on Sunday. Of course, all eyes are on his dropped interception-turned-51-yard gain, a play that doesn’t happen 99 out of 100 times. It is what it is. However, Vildor spent most of his afternoon mirroring Brandon Aiyuk who, beside freak play, had just two receptions for 17 yards on seven targets. That’s no joke against Aiyuk, who would be a WR1 on many teams.

The Lions will have corner at the top of their needs list this offseason, but I think Vildor continues to show promise as a depth piece for the future of Detroit’s secondary.

Stock down: C.J. Gardner-Johnson, S

Stats: 4 tackles

This was a disappointing conclusion to a long and unfruitful season for CJGJ. Maybe we just overhyped him, maybe he was rusty coming off injury, but he never seemed to be the difference-maker on defense I envisioned him to be when the Lions signed him. Sunday, Gardner-Johnson might have done more harm than good on the field by getting into a spat that drew a 15-yard penalty in the first quarter. To make matters worse, here’s a tidbit from Dan Campbell earlier on in the week:

I love CJGJ’s attitude and enthusiasm, but it has to be in check. This behavior on the biggest stage for the Lions is the kind of stuff that we look at on other teams and say, “No, Brad and Dan wouldn’t want that in their locker room.” I wouldn’t be surprised if it spells the end of CJGJ in Detroit this offseason.

Stock up: Aaron Glenn, DC

The tape tells a different story than the final score. In a bend-but-don’t-break defense, the Lions were broken by stupid penalties, missed tackles, dropped interceptions, and more. They were broken by a lack of execution, certainly not by coaching decisions. When the Lions defense wasn’t shooting themselves in the foot, they held the Niners offense in check and more often than not forced them to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. For the sheer talent mismatch this defense had against the 49ers offense, it was almost a masterclass by Aaron Glenn.

Stock neutral: Jahmyr Gibbs, RB

Stats: 12 carries, 45 yards, 1 TD

Gibbs’ fumble in the third quarter was inopportune, but it was just the second fumble of his career. If it happens on the other side of the field, we probably are paying way less attention to it. Gibbs continued to work his magic in finding the end zone and showed stellar balance through contact.

What I found concerning was that the Lions effectively shut out Gibbs after the fumble. The Lions played over an entire quarter either tied or down by just three, so it’s not like they were abandoning the run game. However, they were abandoning Gibbs. He had two targets from Jared Goff the rest of the game, and no rushes after the fumble. I’d have to imagine Gibbs was in the doghouse, which is an interesting decision to make with one of your best players at that point.

Quick Hits

Stock up

Tyson Alualu, DT: Alualu plugged the interior to the tune of four tackles, and had the first sack of the game to start a defensive cascade that would hold the Niners to a field goal.

Alim McNeill, DT: McNeill followed up Alualu’s sack with one of his own, and had another one of his games where he bursts onto the scene out of nowhere. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Malcolm Rodriguez, LB: After Derrick Barnes exited the game early with a knee injury, Rodrigo saw his largest snap share in a long time. He stepped in admirably on the big stage, and finished as the Lions’ third-leading tackler, including a tackle for loss. And, of course, notched a huge interception.

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