49ers' potential defensive X-factors vs. Lions in NFC Championship game

These 49ers key defensive elements could be the difference-makers against the Lions in order to advance to the Super Bowl.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers
NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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12-5. Sunday, Jan. 28. 49ers-Lions opening. 50. Fox. 42. 49ers -7. 6:30 p.m. ET. 12-5

The stage is set for Sunday evening's NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions. The winner goes on to play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 11.

Despite San Francisco allowing 24 points versus the Green Bay Packers in their divisional-round win last weekend, there were a few bright spots, especially on defense.

Who will step up for the Niners this time, and how?

49ers abiding by Javon Kinlaw, Dre Greenlaw's 'laws' on defense

Easily, linebacker Dre Greenlaw was a standout star for San Francisco's defense. He tallied 8 total tackles, including one for a loss.

Greenlaw also recorded a pair of pass deflections. More importantly, one of his two interceptions came on the Packers' last drive to seal the win for the 49ers.

The young linebacker had 120 tackles in 15 games, which was good enough to be in the top 35 in the NFL. Greenlaw also had 1.5 sacks during the regular season.

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw recorded 25 tackles, 3.5 sacks and had three pass deflections. Though his first year playing in the postseason with San Francisco was last year, Kinlaw has been with the team since they drafted him 14th overall in 2020.

Lions quarterback Jared Goff has more playoff experience than Packers' hurler Jordan Love. But the 49ers could disrupt Goff's attempts down the field by rushing him and adding pressure to force turnovers, which he is prone to make.