Earlier today we started up some discussion about the 49ers defensive matchup against Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Megatron is a monster of a receiver, and while he may not be impossible to cover, the 49ers will have their hands full trying to at least contain him.
On the other side of the ball, the Lions have a monster of a man in Ndamukong Suh. The Detroit Lions defensive line hasn't been spectacular thus far, but Suh remains a dominant force on that line. The 49ers will have to figure out a way to at least contain Suh if they want to keep Alex Smith upright.
In the running game, the counter to Suh would seem to be running more frequently on the edges. The Bears had a lot of success running on the edges. However, Suh and the rest of the Lions were able to disrupt Jay Cutler throughout the game and Matt Forte's strong performance went for naught.
Adam Snyder will be the first line of defense against Suh. I would imagine the 49ers will mix in some double teams as well. Jonathan Goodwin could spend a good deal of his day swinging over to help Snyder keep Suh out of the backfield. Part of that might depend on the availability of Mike Iupati. He is expected to play, but Chilo Rachal has been getting some snaps just in case. If Rachal goes, Goodwin might have his hands full beyond just Suh.
Speaking of Suh, he chatted with the 49ers beat writers earlier today and had some great lines (AUDIO, Transcript). The best had to be:
I don't think any part of my game is intimidation or fear factor. It's you either need to guard me or I'm going to hit your quarterback. If you're not going to block me I'm going to continue hitting your quarterback, I'm going to continue to hit him. It's not necessarily me putting fear like, "I want you to be scared of me." It's the fear of if you don't come up with a great plan, I'm going to hit him or the other eight or nine guys will hit him as well.
Even though I'm no Lions fan, that kind of understated confidence is pretty awesome. I don't want to see him hitting Alex Smith or breaking up a ton of runs, but it will be a stiff challenge for the 49ers offensive line to contain the big man. Some folks here have commented that maybe he isn't such a big deal. I disagree. Strenuously.
The 49ers do not have to dominate Suh to win this game, but they absolutely must contain him. If he runs free in the backfield and is getting sacks and hurries, it could be a long day. This could also prove to be a strong test of Smith's mobility. He is dealing with an incredibly athletic big man. My guess is Greg Roman and his staff have spent a ton of time game-planning this matchup.