Early thoughts on 49ers-Lions


Early thoughts on 49ers-Lions

After watching the Detroit Lions remain unbeaten Monday night with a 24-13 victory over the Chicago Bears, here are some of my initial thoughts about the upcoming game against the 49ers (4-1):-- Adam Snyder is going to see a lot of Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who lines up every play over the right guard.-- The 49ers' offensive line will be tested. And not just Snyder. The Bears were called for nine false starts at Ford Field. The crowd should be worked up for this game featuring teams that are a combined 9-1 this season. (By the way, these same teams were a combined 1-9 last year at this same point).-- The Lions had nine defensive linemen active for Monday's game. They are able to keep the line fresh as part of their rotation. They'll be coming at the 49ers in waves.-- The 49ers' nickel defense was on the field for just 26 snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers will have to go with five defensive backs against the Lions, who line up with three wideouts -- Calvin Johnson and rookie Titus Young, along with slot receiver Nate Burleson -- nearly every play.-- That means rookie defensive end Aldon Smith will rarely come off the field in this game. He'll be matched mostly against left tackle Jeff Backus, an 11-year pro who has started all 165 games of his career. (By the way, yes, I called Aldon Smith a "defensive end," because he has yet to play outside linebacker this season). Smith, the No. 7 overall pick, leads the 49ers with 3.5 sacks.--In the 49ers' nickel package last week, Aldon Smith, safety Reggie Smith and rookie cornerback Chris Culliver entered the game, replacing nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois, outside linebacker Parys Haralson and strong safety Donte Whitner.--Calvin Johnson is now the best wide receiver in football. He is the first player in NFL history to have nine touchdowns catches through five games. The folks at "Monday Night Football" put up a graphic that showed Johnson is 6-foot-5 with a 6-10 wingspan. His standing reach is 8-foot-8, and his vertical leap is 45 inches. His maximum reach is an amazing 12-5. All quarterback Matthew Stafford has to do is throw the ball within the size of a two-car garage, and Johnson can go get it.--The 49ers haven't yet had cornerback Carlos Rogers shadow the opposition's top receiver. Will this be the week? If it's not, the 49ers have a big decision to make with their third cornerback. Is Culliver, coming off a strong showing against Tampa Bay, ready to be matched against Johnson from time to time? Or will Shawntae Spencer, who missed last week's game with "turf toe" bump the rookie to the sideline?--Safety Dashon Goldson had some big hits the past two weeks. He'll be tested Sunday, as the Lions love to get the ball deep. Johnson is a big target for Stafford. That means he's also a big target for Goldson.--Detroit, yes, Detroit will be the center of the football world on Sunday.

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.

The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported. The actual contract terms and amount of fully guaranteed money is expected to be less than the reported figures.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.

McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.

“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”



Injury report: Staley's streak of 92 consecutive starts in serious jeopardy

Injury report: Staley's streak of 92 consecutive starts in serious jeopardy

Five-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game due to a hamstring injury, the 49ers announced on Friday.

Staley has the third-longest active streak among offensive tackles with 92 consecutive starts. Only Cleveland's Joe Thomas (156) and Oakland's Donald Penn (153) rank ahead of him on the list. Staley has not missed a game since the beginning of the 2011 season.

Coach Chip Kelly said Friday morning on his weekly show on KNBR that the 49ers have two more days of training “and then we’ll see what Joe’s status is going into the game on Sunday.”

Kelly added, “That’s kind of what we normally do with everybody. The best thing to say with Joe is he’s day-to-day. We’re hopeful, but we have two more days out on the field.”

With Staley not expected to play, the 49ers will likely shift left guard Zane Beadles to left tackle. Andrew Tiller, who started the first five games of the season at right guard, would likely start at left guard.

The 49ers expect outside linebacker Aaron Lynch to return to action on Sunday after missing five games with a high-ankle sprain, Kelly said on KNBR. Lynch is listed as questionable, along with defensive tackle Quinton Dial, who has a left elbow injury

The Jets will be without at least one starter. Right tackle Breno Giacomini was ruled out due to injuries. Brent Qvale, a third-year player from Nebraska, is scheduled to make his fifth NFL start.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.

T Joe Staley (hamstring)
DT Quinton Dial (elbow)
LB Aaron Lynch (ankle)

RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg)
DT Steve McLendon (hamstring)
T Breno Giacomini (back, calf, shoulder)
LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle)
S Antonio Allen (concussion)
WR Jalin Marshall (concussion)
DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)