No. 1: Whoever controls the ground attack, 49ers or Lions, will win
Both Kyle Shanahan and Dan Campbell have to understand their respective quarterbacks are prone to tossing interceptions. And both quarterbacks are also much more effective at play-action passes, too, meaning the establishment of a quality run game will be paramount to any quality offensive plan of attack.
Detroit will hope to achieve this with D’Andre Swift, who is more than just a quality rusher and can serve as a legitimate pass-catching option for Jared Goff.
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Yet the lack of other receiving weapons in the Lions’ arsenal could help the Niners’ own defensive efforts, as they’ll likely cheat up in the box with six, seven or even eight players to prevent Swift from getting much further than just beyond the line of scrimmage.
At least for now, that edge should be in San Francisco’s favor.
The 49ers, meanwhile, will be countering with running back Raheem Mostert, who’ll be fresh and rested after seeing only modest use during the preseason. And unlike Detroit, the 49ers aren’t hurting for legitimate pass-catching weapons that’ll force the Lions’ own defense to play off a bit, opening up holes for the speedy Mostert to make a serious impact.
This all plays into Shanahan’s offensive scheme anyway while also limiting the mistakes Jimmy Garoppolo might be prone to make.
The Niners and Lions kick off on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. ET from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.