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Plenty of credit needs to be handed to Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers. In one year, Harbaugh has helped transform his team into an NFC powerhouse playing with very few flaws. The 'Niners are arguably right now the biggest threat in the entire league.
On the other side, the Lions again have been exposed by a top-tier opponent. Tonight's game shared many similarities to last year's contest, minus an improved handshake. Detroit played much worse than the final score indicated.
From the start of the game, the Niners just about had their way with the Lions. The 49ers moved the ball with ease and efficiency without any real big gains. Quarterback Alex Smith played his usual managing style with short intermediate throws, and running back Frank Gore found more success with the infamous "wam" play up the middle of the Lions' defense.
The Lions struggled to advance the ball and faced a big collision almost every time a skill player touched the football. Elite teams also must be able to convert offensively on third down and make stops defensively on third down. The Lions failed to do either.
Detroit struggles heavily in grind-out games such as this one. San Francisco seemed comfortable offensively and always flying around on defense. The Lions seemed to be scratching and clawing for every yard, but came away with paydirt against the vicious 49er defense.
If the Lions wish to take the next step, they'll have to be able to make adjustments defensively instead of getting beat by the same play repeatedly. And they must make their opponents pay when breaks happen in their favor.