The season opener didn’t go as planned for either the Detroit Lions or the San Francisco 49ers. The Lions got absolutely demolished by Sam Darnold and the New York Jets and lost 48-17. Jimmy Garoppolo suffered his first loss as an NFL starter, 24-16, at the hands of the ferocious defense of the Minnesota Vikings, who sacked and intercepted him three times each.
There were definitely some similarities between the performances of both these teams in the opening week. The supposed franchise quarterbacks of these squads played some of their worst football in their careers. Matthew Stafford completed 58% of his passes for 286 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Garoppolo went 15-33 for 261 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Not exactly what you’re looking for as a fan or front office from two players who have some of the largest contracts in NFL history.
There was another thing these teams had in common during their first game: the defense got gashed by one aspect of the offense. The Lions gave up 169 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to the Jets. The 49ers, meanwhile, got dissected by Kirk Cousins and company through the air to the tune of 244 yards and two touchdowns.
But now onto this Sunday. Both teams would love to get into the win column in Week 2, and they have similar things that will have to improve if that is going to be the case.
The first thing that both teams need to have happen if they want to win is get better production from their quarterback. Will Stafford rebound from one of his worst starts in his long career or will his woes continue? Will Jimmy G start a new win streak or make it two consecutive losses?
The next thing that these teams will need to be better at this week is running the ball. The leading rusher for Detroit was Theo Riddick who rushed for 20 yards on four attempts. They only ran for 39 yards as a team as new backfield additions LeGarrette Blount (four carries for minus-three yards) and rookie Kerryon Johnson (17 yards on five carries), who were brought in to fix this rushing attack, were not productive whatsoever.
San Francisco, on the other hand, rushed for 90 yards as team but only averaged 3.6 yards per rush. With starter Jerick McKinnon lost prior to the season to an ACL tear, the 49ers turned to second-year pro Matt Breida and veteran Alfred Morris. Breida had a decent day with 46 yards on 11 attempts while Morris only gained 38 yards on 12 carries.
In the end, I think both QBs will have much better showings this week. I highly doubt both of them will throw more INTs than TDs in back to back games. But Garoppolo, playing a defense that didn’t record a single sack in Week 1, will outperform his counterpart in Stafford.
Injuries may also play a part in the outcome of this one as Detroit will be missing right guard due to a back injury suffered against the Jets. This injury will affect the running and passing game as Lang is a former Pro Bowl guard who is one of the better guards in the game when healthy.
The 49ers have home-field advantage, a better rushing attack and a better defense. I think this game will be closely contested most of the way, but the 49ers will make more big plays when it counts and will come away victorious.
San Francisco 30, Detroit 20.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com.