Well, my prediction wasn’t too far off. As the game approached kickoff, much of the conversation about the “Handshake” from last year began to fade into conversation about the teams themselves, largely because of the diffused, cordial encounter that Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh had during pregame warm ups. But regarding the business of the game, it was a much anticipated matchup on a much anticipated national broadcast.
The opening drives for both the Lions and 49ers were exact opposites of each other. The Lions had a quick three and out possession after a Stefan Logan kickoff return. The 49ers on the other hand had a quick possession which turned into a Vernon Davis touchdown reception from quarterback Alex Smith. The Lions defense actually didn’t do a terrible job after the 49ers opening drive but the main reason why the Lions looked less than stellar in the first half was because of the play of Matthew Stafford and the offense.
Calvin Johnson did not get the looks he needed as Stafford struggled with arm-slot issues as well as his grip on the ball. As many Lions fans know, there is very little to expect out of the running game and as expected, it didn’t help the Lions any in this contest. The Lions scraped 82 yards out of Joique Bell, Kevin Smith, and Nate Burleson out of the backfield. Against an NFC juggernaut like San Francisco, that simply was not going to be enough.
It was a lackluster performance but there is a silver lining for Detroit. With the loss to the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the day, NFL analysts have picked the 49ers as the best team in the NFL. Well, Detroit, your Lions lost by 8 points (ONLY 8 points), on the road (Candlestick is no easy place to play), without scoring a touchdown in the first half, and still kept the game competitive (the defense was taken to the brink and still gave Stafford plenty of chances).
Overall, fans shouldn’t hang their heads too low for too long. Don’t forget, that the Packers, a division rival, lost by 8 points to these same 49ers. Hopefully, this will only be a bump in the road to another playoff birth.