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San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions: A Prospector's Guide

49ers_logo_medium vs. Th_lions_icon_medium

The 49ers come down the final stretch of their season with nothing to play for but pride.  Ok, that's not entirely true.  The 49ers may be eliminated from playoff contention this season, but the building and learning process does not end with two games to go in the season.  The 49ers are still assessing their offensive "identity" and what the current mix of players and playcalling can do on the field.  And of course, the team is looking to get to .500 for the first time since 2002.  Some folks would prefer the high draft pick, but I'll take the psychological value of getting .500 (at least my own psychological value).

The 49ers host the Detroit Lions in what will be the 63rd meeting between the two teams, with San Francisco holding a 34-27-1 advantage in the series. The last time the two teams matched up was in 2008 when San Francisco defeated Detroit, 31-13. The 49ers enter this weekend’s game with a 6-game win streak against Detroit.

San Francisco has won 8 of its past 10 games played at Candlestick Park, outscoring opponents 235 to 161 in those games (+74). During that span, the 49ers defense has allowed the fewest passing touchdowns (5)  of any NFL team at home, while ranking fourth in league with 25 takeaways. Head coach Mike Singletary is undefeated in the month of December when playing at Candlestick Park, notching three wins dating back to 2008.

The 49ers defense enters this week’s game ranked 5th in rushing defense, allowing only 96.5 rushing yards per game.  The 18 forced fumbles by the defense this season rank tied for 2nd in the NFL and are tied for the most by the team in a single season (1996 - 18), dating back to 1992.

49ers-Lions Connections
Coaching Connections

• 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham coached together during their time with the Kansas City Chiefs. Both served in the same capacity during the ‘98 season. Raye remained in the same position during the next two seasons (1999-2000) when Cunningham was promoted as head coach.
• 49ers WR coach Jerry Sullivan and Lions special teams coordinator Stan Kwan coached together on the San Diego Chargers staff from 1992-96 and on the Arizona Cardinals staff when Sullivan was WR coach/offensive coordinator and Kwan was an assistant special teams coach.
• 49ers QB Shaun Hill was coached by Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan from 2002-05, when Linehan served as offensive coordinator/QB coach, for the Minnesota Vikings.

FORMER LIONS - Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye served as RB coach for the Lions for two seasons (1978-79) ... WR Coach Jerry Sullivan served in the same capacity for Detroit from 1997-2000 ... RB coach Tom Rathman served in the same capacity with the Lions from 2003-05 ... CB Dre’ Bly played for four seasons with the Lions 2003-06 ... FB Moran Norris played through the 2008 season with Detroit.

FORMER 49ERS - LB Julian Peterson was originally drafted in the 1st round (16th overall) by San Francsico in 2000 and played six seasons with the 49ers (2000-05) ... DT Joe Cohen was originally drafted in the 4th round (135th overall) by the 49ers in 2007 ... WR Bryant Johnson played for the 49ers during the 2008 season ... TE coach Tim Lappano served as RB coach with the 49ers from 2003-04 ... Regional scout Cary Conklin played QB for the 49ers in 1995.

LIONS NORTHERN CALIFORNIA CONNECTIONS - FB Zack Follett a native of Clovis, CA, played his college ball at Cal-Berkeley ... P Nick Harris played at Cal-Berkeley ... Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham held several coaching positions at the collegiate level in Northern California, serving as DB coach in 1977, LB coach in 1978, and defensive coordinator/DL coach from 1979-80 at Cal-Berkeley. Cunningham’s previous experience was at Stanford, where he coached the DL from 1974-76

• 49ers T Barry Sims and Lions QB Daunte Culpepper were teammates with the Oakland Raiders during the 2008 season. Sims also played with Lions CB Phillip Buchanon in Oakland from 2002-04.
• 49ers QB Shaun Hill and Lions QB Daunte Culpepper were teammates with the Minnesota Vikings from 2002-05.
• 49ers LB Takeo Spikes and Lions RB coach Sam Gash were teammates during the 2003 season with the Buffalo Bills. Spikes started all 16 games at linebacker while Gash was the starting fullback on Buffalo’s offense.

Series Highlights
Matchups: 62
49ers Home Record vs. Lions: 49ers Lead Series 21-10-1
First Meeting: 10/8/50, Lions win, 24-7, at Detroit
Last Meeting: 9/21/08, 49ers win, 31-13, at San Francisco
Current Streak: Won 6
Longest 49ers Win Streak: 6 (12/23/96 - Prsent)
Longest Lions Win Streak: 6 (9/23/62 - 12/13/64)
Most 49ers Points: 55 (12/19/93), 55-17, at Detroit
Most Lions Points: 48 (11/14/54),48-7, at Detroit
49ers Shutouts: 2, Last: 10/1/61, 49ers win 49-0, at Detroit
Lions Shutouts: 1, 11/6/60, Lions win 24-0, at San Francisco

At San Francisco, CA, September 21, 2008

The San Francisco 49ers scored over 30 points for the second consecutive week to improve to 2-1 with a 31-13 victory over the visiting Detroit Lions. RB Frank Gore gained 130 yards on the ground, and QB J.T. O’Sullivan threw 2 touchdown passes to lead the 49ers to the win. The 49ers offense chalked up 370 yards of total offense, including 182 yards on the ground, while San Francisco’s secondary shut down the Lions big receivers in front of the home crowd at Candlestick. Detroit gained just 124 yards in the air, and receivers Roy Williams (two catches for 18 yards) and Calvin Johnson (four catches for 40 yards) were non-factors.

The 49ers scored on three straight possessions to take a 21-3 halftime lead. A 33-yard run by Gore positioned the 49ers for O’Sullivan’s 6-yard TD pass to WR Isaac Bruce for a 7-0 first quarter lead. An 18-yard run by WR Arnaz Battle on a reverse on the next possession helped get the 49ers in Detroit territory, where they took a 14-0 lead on a 4-yard TD run by Gore. After spotting the Lions a FG, O’Sullivan connected on a 25-yard pass to WR Bryant Johnson, followed by an 18-yard pass to WR Josh Morgan and then a 24-yard TD pass to TE Delanie Walker for a 21-3 advantage.

The only scoring in the 3rd quarter was a FG by Detroit to close the lead to 21-6 before the 49ers had a 10-point 4th quarter to seal the victory. The 49ers moved to the Detroit 1-yard line early in the 4th quarter and were faced with a 4th-and-1 situation. Head coach Mike Nolan elected to go for the TD rather than attempt a field goal. 11-year veteran CB/PR Allen Rossum took a handoff and scored a TD on a 1-yard run for 28-6 49ers lead. Detroit responded on the next series when QB Jon Kitna scrambled on a 4th-down play to help set up a 34-yard TD pass to RB Rudi Johnson. The Lions attempted an onsides kick on the ensuing drive that Battle picked up and returned 28 yards to the Detroit 12-yard line to set up a 25-yard PK Joe Nedney FG for a 31-13 lead. DE Justin Smith intercepted a Lions pass with 1:50 left to play to seal the victory for San Francisco.

2009 Statistics

49ERS (rank) LIONS (rank)
6-8 (2nd NFCW) Record 2-12 (4th NFCN)
20.1 (t-18th) Points per game 16.6 (27th)
286.6 (28th) Total Offense 296.1 (25th)
99.4 (26th) Rushing Offense 100.1 (24th)
187.3 (24th) Passing Offense 196.0 (22nd)
29:28 (17th) Possession Avg 28:47 (22nd)
19.8 (t-8th) Points allowed/gm 31.2 (32nd)
344.6 (19th) Total Defense 396.1 (32nd)
96.5 (5th) Rushing Defense 127.6 (24th)
248.1 (28th) Passing Defense 268.6 (32nd)
34 (t-8th) Sacks 23 (29th)
47.9 (2nd) Punting Avg (Gross) 43.1 (19th)
+4 (10th) Turnover Differential -11 (30th)