By: Herman Moore
Ford Lions Report Live Analyst
This week, it’s going to be important for the Detroit Lions to minimize turnovers – those are definitely killers when you’re going against an opponent like the San Francisco 49ers.
Obviously, with quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and the rest of the receiving corps, along with the tight ends, the Lions have plenty of weapons that can get the ball down the field and keep the chains moving through the air.
San Francisco can combat the Lions’ aerial attack with receivers Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss – and don’t forget about tight end Vernon Davis, who could be more active against the Lions than he was against the Green Bay Packers. The Lions have to play close attention to the trio Sunday.
The X-factor is the run game.
While the Lions still have running backs Kevin Smith and Joique Bell, and they can bring in some other spot players to shore up the backfield.
But San Francisco may have an answer of its own.
Frank Gore is a proven superstar in the running game, so the Lions have to account for him, know where he is, and from a defensive standpoint, they have to shift focus upon Gore and look to shut him down as much as possible.
That’s going to be the distinguishing factor between these two offenses.
When you go to the defensive side of the ball, the San Francisco secondary seemed to be in tune when you look at what they were able to do against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his wide receivers.
The 49ers, particularly their defense, played a great football game Sunday during their 30-22 win over Green Bay. Despite allowing Rodgers to throw for 303 yards, the 49ers secondary minimized the long ball, giving up two 25-yard plus plays to one of the NFL’s elite offenses.
San Francisco will pressure the Lions receivers. Stafford has to make intelligent decisions and carefully calculate his deliveries.
Defensively, the Lions’ front four of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams and Cliff Avril have to impact Gore’s production.
Playing In San Francisco
The biggest thing about playing in San Francisco is that it’s a west coast game. Make no mistake: jet-lag could be a factor. Some may not emphasize that fact, but being in a different time zone can take its toll.
The Lions have to make sure they’re rested, and I’d imagine that they’ll get the majority of their workouts in Wednesday and Thursday before tapering off by Friday – then it’s time board their flight Saturday morning.
Monday Night Memories
When I played at Candlestick on Monday Night Football (1992) there were elements of weather that we had to deal with; it was a night game and the field was sloppy and unforgiving. At this point, I don’t know what the conditions are with the turf there and if they have that field in order and under control.
It’s early in the season so they won't have to deal with a sloppy field unless it rains. The conditions were tough for us, especially running the football.
The only thing I can remember about when I played back there is that we threw the ball and there were a couple opportunities that we had to go against a proven defense. The 49ers were very good defensively at that time.
As a player competing on the road against the 49ers, you just have to be on guard. You have to be very in sync with everything -- and I can’t say that enough. Playing mistake-free football is imperative.
The Lions got off to a slow start this past Sunday during their 27-23 come-from-behind season-opening win over the St. Louis Rams – but that’s to be expected after coming off a preseason schedule. It’s different for a team knowing that it has to play four quarters, rather than playing units in shifts and analyzing performance on a drive-by-drive basis instead of managing the game as a whole.
The Lions should have any kinks in their system worked out come Sunday. In the second half against the Rams, they established more a rhythm with the running and passing games. In a sense, the Lions were forced to play catch up because of turnovers and stalled drives within the red zone (Stafford threw two interceptions).
Herman Moore joins Tom Leyden and Rob Rubick on the Ford Lions Report Live every Sunday at 11am throughout the season. You can follow Herman on Twitter @HMAN84
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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