The 49ers play the Detroit Lions Sunday night at Candlestick Park. In the meantime, I’ll break down one key matchup per day.
Alex Smith vs. the Lions’ secondary: CB Drayton Florence, CB Chris Houston, CB Jacob Lacey and FS John Wendling.
The key for Alex Smith is to avoid obvious passing downs, like third and 9, because the Lions can put a ton of heat on him with only four rushers. Joe Staley struggled majorly against Clay Matthews last week. Staley’s got another tough matchup on Sunday against Kyle Vanden Bosch.
Staley might be overmatched a second week in a row. If that’s the case, it is imperative the 49ers establish Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter on the ground and keep their third downs manageable – third and 2, third and 3. If they do this, Smith should tear the Lions’ secondary apart. Not one of their defensive backs is what you would call an impact player. They won’t win their one-on-one matchups against the Niners’ receivers, so as long as Smith has time to throw he’ll have a big game.