49ers must be sure to stop these 3 Lions stars on Sunday
By Peter Panacy
49ers Opponent No. 3: Tight End T.J. Hockenson
Detroit doesn’t exactly have a crop of wide receivers who’d inspire fear in opposing teams, which is good news for a San Francisco secondary that could be without cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, who’s dealing with a knee injury.
Still, third-year tight end T.J. Hockenson is a major threat to guard against, and he’s one player the 49ers better hope to be on point against in Week 1.
Hockenson, the 2020 Pro Bowler, might not be anywhere close to boasting the pedigree of his former teammate at Iowa, All-Pro tight end George Kittle. But with Lions quarterback Jared Goff lacking pass-catching targets, and tight ends being a quarterback’s best friend anyway, it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see Hockenson get close to 10 targets in Sunday’s bout.
Hockenson had 723 receiving yards and six touchdowns last year, but that was with now-Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford trying to get him the ball. Not Goff. But by most accounts, the training camp rapport between Goff and Hockenson was a good one.
Expect both of the Niners’ linebackers, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, to lock in on Hockenson a lot during the game, while strong safety Jaquiski Tartt might double up the coverage, too.
It’s never a bad idea to try and take away an opposing quarterback’s top receiving weapon. San Francisco needs to do this well.