No. 3: 49ers defensive line must swarm against banged-up Lions offensive line
Yes, the Lions are a rebuilding team, and that alone presents a perfect opportunity for the Niners to kick off their 2021 campaign with a 1-0 record.
Yet Detroit does have one particular strength, its offensive line, which Pro Football Focus ranked 10th best heading into the regular season. But unfortunately for the Lions, they’re going to be without their starting left tackle Taylor Decker, who will miss the contest with a hand injury.
This could prompt Dan Campbell to engineer a number of different alternatives, including moving rookie right tackle Penei Sewell over to the left side of the line.
Whatever the course of action here, there will be some shuffling and downgrades. And that should present a juicy opportunity for the Niners pass rush.
Jared Goff has historically faltered under pressure over his career, and the thought of edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford — at least one of them — going up against a backup offensive tackle should mean plenty of chances to get home for pressures and sacks. A downgraded Detroit O-line should also remove the need for San Francisco to blitz to a certain extent, too, meaning the 49ers linebackers and safeties can focus more on covering what few pass-catching weapons Goff has at his disposal.
This should be a one-sided matchup in the Niners’ favor, but it’s only the case if they take advantage of it.