No. 2: 49ers linebackers must be positioned better
It’s unclear whether or not San Francisco will be without one of its best interior run-stuffers, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who was inactive in Week 1 with a knee injury.
His absence opened up the door for Detroit to gain some massive ground on interior rushing attempts, which certainly frustrated both DeMeco Ryans and head coach Kyle Shanahan, the latter telling reporters after the game (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area):
"There was a number of things that we’ve done here for going into our fifth year in a row early in that game, especially those three runs up the middle. Just a couple of guys not being in the right gap and it wasn’t one culprit. It was three different guys on three different plays. I think they had like 110 yards rushing and I think they got 60 something yards on three of the same play which were all very similar."
Kinlaw potentially being out means the 49ers defensive line will have to make up the difference, but the biggest run-stopping X-factor will likely be Ryans’ crop of linebackers, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair.
Ryans didn’t deploy Warner as much of a coverage option in Week 1, so that might be an expected change. But he’s also the Niners’ best run-stopping linebacker, meaning his efforts at the second level of the defense are paramount.
It wouldn’t be a shocker to see Warner maintain close eyes on Eagles running back Miles Sanders, who’ll look to pick up where he left off last week when he had 74 rush yards on 15 carries against the Atlanta Falcons while averaging 4.9 yards per carry.