49ers vs. Lions: 5 Individual Matchups to Watch in Week 16

2 of 6

Left tackle Joe Staley remains a key point along San Francisco’s O-line. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Left Tackle Joe Staley

Football games are won, or lost, in the trenches, and Week 16 will be no exception.

San Francisco’s offensive line has been a problem all season long, and a series of late-season shake-ups adds further question marks over these final two games.

But the one constant along the O-line has been veteran left tackle Joe Staley.

En route to another Pro Bowl nomination, Staley has unquestionably been the best offensive lineman for San Francisco this season. And he’ll face a worthy test in Detroit.

Frequently opposing him will be Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.

Ansah is Detroit’s leader in sacks this year with 13 and is, with little doubt, the Lions’ best pass-rusher on the field.

Staley will be responsible for holding down the strong side of San Francisco’s O-line and protecting quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s blind side. Doing so will be inherent to the 49ers’ chances effectively moving the ball down the field.

Next: Nose Tackle Ian Williams