The 49ers have a great opportunity to earn a win during their home opener this week versus the Lions. Both teams are coming off losses to start the season and will look to make a statement.
Luckily for the 49ers, the Lions’ defense isn’t as stout as the one they faced last week. The Lions’ defensive line, in particular, was constantly pushed around by the Jets’ offensive line, creating huge openings for the running backs to take advantage. The Lions weren’t able to make adjustments at half time and ended giving up a total of 169 rushing yards, which is quite promising for the 49ers’ backfield.
In the latter part of the game, Bilal Powell (#29) took the handoff to the left and was the beneficiary of two great blocks by Brian Winters (right guard #67) and Brandon Shell (right tackle #72), which opened a huge hole for him.
Powell went relatively untouched until Lions safety Glover Quin (#27) made the tackle. The running back had two options on this play: 1) He could’ve “bounced” the play outside or 2) Taken the cutback lane. Powell chose the second of the two options because everyone at the second level of the defense had shifted over to the strong side, leaving no one around after he took the cutback lane.
In this play, Isaiah Crowell (#20) took the handoff from the shotgun and scored from six yards out.
The defensive line actually performed well on this play, but Jarrad Davis (#40) makes a bad read and gets blocked by the center Spencer Long (#61). This left Quandre Diggs (#28) as the only player in position to make a tackle on Crowell, but he was too late. You can get a better look at the hole that opened up due to Davis’ mistake from this next angle:
The linebackers will have their hands full with receiving threat George Kittle, so they’ll have to quickly decide on covering him or committing to the run. If they hesitate, they will have a greater chance at taking bad tackling angles like the ones in that last play.
At the end of the third quarter, Crowell had another highlight run with a 62-yard touchdown. The Lions had a few opportunities to bring Crowell down for a short gain, but were instead dealt a massive blow to the team’s morale by missing a tackle and taking bad angles on the run. Pay attention to ex-49er DL Ricky Jean Francois (#97). He does a great job of getting around Winters (#67), but misses out on tackling Crowell. Quin (#27) takes a bad angle on the play, which allowed Crowell to run past him for the touchdown.
Don’t get me wrong, the Lions defense is talented. Ezekiel Ansah is the leader of the D-line, Darius Slay is a top-10 cornerback, and Glover Quin registered a pick-six versus the Jets. But ultimately, this is a game that the 49ers should win at home, and the running backs will have plenty of opportunities to contribute to the offense.
Source: Icon Sportswire, NFL.com, NFL Gamebook