Defense Leads San Francisco 49ers to 27-19 Win over Detroit Lions

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor ISeptember 17, 2012

In case you were wondering, the San Francisco 49ers are really good. 

The Niners held Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and the normally high-powered Detroit Lions offense to just 296 yards of total offense as San Francisco strolled to a 27-19 victory and a 2-0 record.

And, most importantly (clearly), Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh had a nice, friendly handshake after the final whistle. 

If the win wasn't impressive enough—although it clearly was—the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens both lost on Sunday, undoubtedly propelling San Fran to the undisputed No. 1 spot in the Week 3 power rankings. NFL guru Merril Hoge agrees:

Best team in the young NFL season is @49ers they are the most fundamentally sound team I've seen in a while. Blocking tacklingthe staples

— Merril Hoge (@merrilhoge) September 17, 2012

It took the Niners offense, oh, about one play to get into a groove in its Sunday Night Football showcase. After forcing a Detroit three-and-out to start the game, quarterback Alex Smith missed Vernon Davis across the middle.

Then bam. Twenty-nine-yard run by Mario Manningham. Smith to Michael Crabtree for 17 yards. Smith to Davis for a 21-yard touchdown.

And just like that, just two minutes and 35 seconds into the game, the 49ers were ahead, 7-0. They would lead for the remaining 57 minutes and 25 seconds. 

Smith continued his terrific start to the 2012 campaign, as he completed 20-of-31 throws for 226 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and one bloody nose:

Blood coming down from the bridge of Alex Smith's nose. twitter.com/BleacherReport…

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 17, 2012

Allow NFL.com's highlights to give you a visual before reading about Sunday night's action:

Vernon Davis, who added his second touchdown late in the fourth to seal the game, had 73 yards on five catches, Michael Crabtree made multiple key third-down grabs on his way to six catches and 67 yards, and the always-reliable Frank Gore chipped in 89 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

San Francisco gets the deserved credit for its defense, but the offense has been more than useful through the first two weeks. 

The Lions, meanwhile, were able to add two field goals to round out the first quarter and keep things close, but thanks to a stifling San Francisco defense, their only scoring came from two Jason Hanson three-pointers and a late touchdown pass.

Matthew Stafford held his own despite not having a ton to work with. He found Calvin "I'm Never In Single Coverage" Johnson eight times for 94 yards.

Unfortunately for the former Georgia star, when he wasn't finding his favorite Transformer, his options were fairly limited. He finished 19-of-32 for just 230 yards, a late touchdown to Brandon Pettigrew and an interception by Dashon Goldson.

The 49ers controlled this game from the start, but the Lions deserve credit for a sneaky good game in the loss. While the offense wasn't able to really ever get going, the defense settled down after a bad opening possession. 

However, a costly Stafford interception, untimely penalties and, as rookiesscouts.com's Josh Liskiewitz points out, the inability to get off the field when it really mattered hurt Detroit:

Lions are still one of the worst in the league at getting off the field on 3rd down defense.

— Josh Liskiewitz (@JoshLiskiewitz) September 17, 2012

In the end, though, the Niners were still only able to out-gain Detroit, 349-296, so this was hardly as lopsided as many might make it seem. But the only numbers that truly matter are those on the final scoreboard, and San Francisco is the only team satisfied in that department. 

The Niners take their perfect record to Minnesota next week, while the 1-1 Lions go to Tennessee to face the Titans. 


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