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The 49ers and Lions haven’t faced each other since 2018. A lot has changed for both clubs since then as the organizations have gone in dramatically different directions.
While the 49ers find themselves in the playoff conversation, the Lions reside at the bottom of virtually every pre-season power rankings.
To get a better idea of what San Francisco is walking into when they square off with the Lions at Ford Field, we sat down with Jeff Risdon from the Lions Wire to chat about the Week 1 matchup.
Are the Detroit Lions good?
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Jeff Risdon: In general terms, they’re not going to be a good football team. In relative terms to what has been in Detroit, these Lions are looking pretty decent. The defense could qualify as “good” if the young secondary comes together well. The hope is that the Lions will be good in 2022 and beyond. Even if the record doesn’t reflect it, this Lions team is already better with the addition by subtraction on the coaching staff.
Who is the Lions’ best player?
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JR: The reflexive answer is T.J. Hockenson, and the Pro Bowl TE is a worthy choice. But in terms of best overall talent, it’s center Frank Ragnow. He’s arguably the best in the NFL at his position. Punter Jack Fox is a stud, too.
How are everyone’s kneecaps with Dan Campbell cruising around the facility?
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JR: It’s weirdly devoid of violence around the team facility. Campbell certainly entertains with his press conference quips, but watching him actually coach the team during practices and talking to players on how he runs meetings and his presence around the locker room, he comes across as more of a Mike Tomlin/Pete Carroll hybrid--competitive, intense, upbeat, honest. That Campbell is willing to laugh at himself is pretty cool and the players love it.
Are the Tigers or Lions in a better spot over the next 5 years?
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JR: So I couldn’t name you three current Detroit Tigers, but I know everyone seems to think their GM is lousy. It’s weird that all four major teams in Detroit--Lions, Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings--are all basically rebuilding at the exact same time. I don’t follow baseball whatsoever so I can’t say on the Tigers fate, but the Lions appear ahead of the Red Wings. The Pistons could be good quickly if Cade Cunningham is legit. He and Jerami Grant are going to be a problem for the East. The Lions aren’t to that point just yet.
49ers are 7.5 point favorites — do they cover?
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JR: Week 1 outcomes are notoriously hard to predict. Weird things happen. Remember last year, the Jaguars beat the Dolphins. It wound up being their only win and the loss kept Miami out of the postseason. I’m not saying that’s going to happen with these two teams, but I’m also not not saying that. Lions not only cover but win outright in the emotions of Dan Campbell’s first home game and the first chance fans in the state have had to attend an indoor professional game in almost 18 months.