Detroit Lions Vs. San Francisco 49ers: Preview and Keys to the Game

The Lions visit Candlestick Park on Sunday night and attempt to go 2-0.  The clash of 1-0 teams has a bit of a sideshow springing out of a controversy about the post-game handshake between San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz after the two teams met last year.  Suffice to say, some of the Detroit players may be looking at this as a bit of a revenge game.  Extra emotion can translate into a more interesting game to watch and this looks to be a good measuring stick for the Lions.

3 Keys to the Game For the Lions

1:  The Defensive Line - Detroit's defensive line played well against the Rams last week, getting to the quarterback and shutting down the run.  The Detroit secondary is banged up.  Cornerback Bill Bentley is out.  Cornerback Chris Houston and Safety Louis Delmas are both doubtful.  The defense line needs to control the line of scrimmage and harass 49ers quarterback Alex Smith to take some of the pressure off the secondary.

2: No More Interceptions - Matthew Stafford threw 4 picks against the Rams.  The Lions still pulled out the game, but it's unlike they'll survive that many turnovers against the 49ers.

3: Establish a Running Game - While the NFL is turning into a passing league, the Lions passed 48 times and only 18 times.  They managed a 4.6 yards/rush average, but they were only running the ball on a little over a quarter of the plays.  Don't make it any easier for a good defense to guess what you're calling.

3 Keys to the Game for the 49ers

1: The Secondary - Calvin Johnson may be the most dangerous in the league today.  He's big.  He's fast.  He gets a lot of targets.  The San Francisco secondary needs to slow him down and limit big plays.  To complicate their job, 6'5" 265 lb Tight End Brandon Pettigrew had 10 targets in the passing game last week.  The secondary did a good job containing the Packers Wide Receivers last week and is in for another test.

2:Randy Moss - We haven't seen Moss unleashed yet.  Last week he was used sparingly and often as a decoy.  Harbough may be waiting to send Moss deep until the 49ers are in trouble, which was never the case last week.  If this turns into a shootout, it will be very interesting to see if Moss has all of his old speed or is merely quick.  It will also be interesting to see if Smith can keep up his efficiency going deep, now that he has a legit long ball threat.

3: A Distributed Running Game - Last week Kendall Hunter rushed 9 times for 41 yards and was able to keep starting running back Frank Gore nice and fresh.  Can he keep this up and will we see the debut of projected short yardage specialist Brandon Jacobs, who's listed as questionable?  Gore averaged 7 yards/carry with a lighter than usual load.  Running back by committee could work in the 49ers favor, but only if all the parts are working.