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Week 2 Game Recap: Detroit Lions 27, San Francisco 49ers 30


What you need to know

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford struggled with his accuracy despite a strong fantasy day. Stafford could easily have added another 150 yards and three touchdowns with more precision in the passing game, on a day where Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones were able to exploit San Francisco down the field. LeGarrette Blount continued to be the lead running back but Kerryon Johnson is slowly emerging as a committee member. Kenny Golladay continues to emerge in the offense, but Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are still heavily involved.

San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan employed more two-tight end sets than he did in Week 1, so second tight end Garrett Celek saw the field far more often than third receiver Trent Taylor did. With Marquise Goodwin out, the remaining wide receivers being unable to beat Detroit's man-to-man coverage, and defenders holding George Kittle on numerous routes, San Francisco's running backs had to carry the team to victory; which is what they did. Two additional consequences of note regarding the effects of man-to-man coverage: 1) Shanahan called more outside runs than usual because of the opportunity for receivers to lead their defenders out of a tackling position; and 2) Detroit's six sacks were almost all of the "coverage sack" variety rather than resulting from blown blocks in pass protection.

Detroit Lions

QB Matthew Stafford, 77 offensive snaps, Pass: 34 - 53 - 347 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0
In a game that looked good on the stat sheet, Matthew Stafford had the opportunity for a historic performance but missed several throws he ordinarily makes. Stafford missed three deep throws to Marvin Jones and a fourth to Kenny Golladay that were opportunities for 50+ yard touchdown passes. Stafford was equally erratic in the underneath, missing short throws to Theo Riddick and Golden Tate multiple times. Stafford had an opportunity for a red zone touchdown pass but overthrew Marvin Jones on a post. Stafford also had a bad lost fumble on a roll out play. Stafford’s day was strong from a fantasy perspective, throwing touchdown passes in the red zone to Michael Roberts and Marvin Jones. Stafford’s other touchdown was a play action pass to Golladay that Golladay made a great effort along the sideline to get into the end zone. Stafford was inaccurate in week three of the preseason and that has spilled over to the first two games of the season. If he can get his accuracy on track, the Detroit offense has juggernaut potential.

RB Kerryon Johnson, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 43 - 0, Rec: 5 - 23 - 0 (6 targets)
Kerryon Johnson worked in a time share with LeGarrette Blount as early as the first drive of the game. Johnson was a clear backup as recently as week three of the preseason, so the change to full blown committee is a positive and quick progression. Johnson added more in the passing game and his work on the perimeter is beyond what Blount can add to the offense. Johnson’s workload is capped by the receiving work of Theo Riddick but can continue to expand over the course of the season.

RB Theo Riddick, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 47 - 0 (12 targets)
Theo Riddick saw the second most targets on the team with 12 against the 49ers. Riddick was used extensively in the passing game during the hurry up offense at the end of the first half and late in the fourth quarter. Riddick could have had a better game, but Stafford was errant on multiple targets to Riddick. Riddick’s could have added another big reception but dropped a pass on third down on the final drive of the game. The throw was low, but Riddick had his hands on it. An on target throw and catch could have set up a large gain and potentially put Detroit in field goal range.

RB LeGarrette Blount, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 38 - 0, Rec: 1 - -3 - 0 (1 targets)
LeGarrette Blount drew the start against the 49ers but worked in a time share with Kerryon Johnson. Blount was proficient running with balance and power between the tackles, while Johnson worked as the more versatile back. Blount was ejected for unnecessary roughness on a play where an unnecessary roughness should have been called on a hit against Stafford. Blount played the role of the defensive, albeit aggressive teammate, shoving a defender to the ground to earn the ejection. The penalty did not appear to be something that would subject him to additional missed time.

WR Golden Tate, 65 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 7 - 109 - 0 (13 targets)
Golden Tate has been surpassed by Kenny Golladay in two receiver sets, but that did not stop him from leading the team in targets. Tate’s best usage is always in the slot, and with Detroit running three receiver sets at a high rate, Tate is still an integral part of the offense. Tate had a bad drop and was missed on a couple of targets by Matthew Stafford, but still had a strong day working the short and intermediate areas of the offense.

WR Kenny Golladay, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 89 - 1 (9 targets)
Kenny Golladay continued to see expanded use in the passing game. He was working in two wide receiver sets opposite Marvin Jones early in the game, with Golden Tate being used in three wide receiver sets. Golladay made a great effort for his touchdown to extend across the goal line. Like the rest of the offense, Golladay could have had an even bigger day, but Stafford missed a deep throw that could have been a second touchdown.

WR Marvin Jones, 77 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 54 - 1 (9 targets)
Marvin Jones had the opportunity for a huge day but was limited by inaccuracies from Matthew Stafford. Jones had three deep opportunities where he was overthrown by Stafford and a fourth end zone target that was overthrown. Jones was able to score a touchdown along the back of the end zone to manage a solid fantasy day, but his fantasy day could have led the league if Stafford was more accurate. Jones is playing well despite the continued emergence of Kenny Golladay.

TE Michael Roberts, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 1 (1 targets)
Michael Roberts made the most of his lone target converting a high point end zone target for a touchdown. Roberts has a big frame, but with the other receiving options in the offense, is likely limited to a red zone target for Matthew Stafford.

TE Luke Willson, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (1 targets)
Luke Willson saw one target, a roll out in the flat for his only target of the game. With Tate, Golladay and Marvin Jones seeing over 60% of the targets, Willson’s role is frustrating from week to week.


San Francisco 49ers

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 26 - 206 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0
Two factors limited Garoppolo's fantasy scoring in this game. First, San Francisco's wide receivers weren't able to consistently defeat Detroit's man-to-man coverage, which they played on the vast majority of pass plays. This, not being overwhelmed by the pass rush, is why Garoppolo scrambled, was sacked, or threw the ball away on over one-quarter of his dropbacks (8 of 34). Second, every game seems to see one or two instances of throwing high and inside on quick, in-breaking routes across the middle of the field. Against Detroit, this mistake popping up turned a potential long catch-and-run by George Kittle into an incompletion. Of course, he hit that same type of throw on Garrett Celek's touchdown, so it's simply a detail in his game that he needs to clean up. Far more egregious was his errant pass to Matt Breida in the left flat on 3rd-and-2 late in the fourth quarter that would have given away the game via pick-six if not for getting saved by a defensive holding penalty far away from the play. That's a mistake he simply cannot make.

RB Alfred Morris, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 48 - 0, Rec: 2 - 32 - 0 (2 targets)
Morris played a higher percentage of snaps than Matt Breida because of Detroit's weakness against the run and San Francisco playing most of the second half with a multi-score lead. What was more surprising was his usage. Specifically, he was split out wide a handful of times, including on one of his two receptions. His other reception came on a simple dumpoff in the left flat. Also interesting about his usage was that 8 of his 14 carries went behind tackle or to the outside.

RB Matt Breida, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 138 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (4 targets)
The hint of a big game came early, when Breida took a handoff on the 49ers first play and ran for 28 yards, the final 10 of which carrying Teez Tabor on his back. Also on that run, Breida juked Glover Quin out of his shoes at around the 11-yard mark. Another long run, a 66-yard touchdown near the end of the third quarter was practically a carbon copy. He was able to navigate through the initial traffic on an outside zone, and then juke a safety -- this time Quandre Diggs -- about 10 yards downfield. The difference here was that Diggs' swing-and-miss also took out the only other tackler in the vicinity. From there, finding the end zone simply took a cut back across the field and lead-blocking from Pierre Garcon for the final 35 yards. A third long run immediately preceded the touchdown and appears to have been the same play, just with the formation and run direction flipped. In the end, One hundred fourteen of Matt Breida's 138 rushing yards came on these three carries, but they weren't fluky occurrences, either.

WR Pierre Garcon, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 57 - 0 (4 targets)
Garcon's relatively quiet day was due to being shadowed by Darius Slay on the vast majority of routes. Indeed, half of his receptions and two-thirds of his yards came on two targets against the man-to-man coverage of Teez Tabor (1-13) and Nevin Lawson (1-19).

WR Kendrick Bourne, 10 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 1 (1 targets)
Bourne made the most of his minimal playing time, scoring a touchdown on his only target. He actually lined up in the backfield with the 49ers in 01 personnel (0 running backs, 4 wide receivers) inside the Lions' 5-yard line. This personnel and alignment seemed to confuse Detroit's defense, leaving Bourne completely uncovered on his route into the left flat.

WR Dante Pettis, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 35 - 0 (2 targets)
Pettis only had two targets despite playing eight out of every nine snaps because he had a hard time beating the man-to-man coverage. Of concern is that he was stifled by Teez Tabor and Nevin Lawson, not perennial Pro Bowler Darius Slay. Pettis' lone reception resulted from one of the few instances he defeated said coverage. It was a post-corner route that spun Tabor around when he broke outside, thereby creating several yards of separation.

WR Trent Taylor, 16 offensive snaps (2 targets)
Taylor was a non-factor mainly due to San Francisco going heavy on two-tight end personnel groups. His first target -- on a quick out route into the left flat -- was broken up by a quickly closing Quandre Diggs. His second target -- on a 10-yard out route from the slot on 3rd-and-7 -- was also broken up by the defender, but this was due to a throw that was high and inside when it needed to be low and outside.

TE Garrett Celek, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 1 (2 targets)
Celek saw far more playing time than last week because the 49ers used two-tight end sets with greater frequency. However, he was used mainly as a blocker, as he only ran six routes all game. One of those ended up in a red zone touchdown, of course. On the play, he lined up on the back side of a three tight end formation (i.e., away from the other two tight ends), and ran a shallow cross. Most impressive was that Celek caught the ball at the 5-yard line, but was able to barrel through two tacklers and carry them into the end zone.

TE George Kittle, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (4 targets)
Kittle's target count is a tad misleading because he drew holding/contact penalties on two additional passes thrown his way that don't count as a target in the box score. He also drew another holding penalty on a target that went elsewhere (and was intercepted). Viewing the All-22 coaches' film reveals several additional holding/contact fouls that were not called. When Kittle was able to use his hands for something other than extricating himself from the clutches of Lions defenders, his two receptions involved hands-only catches. One was on a post route where he reached back and snatched a pass that was thrown behind him. Speaking of errant passes, Jimmy Garoppolo air-mailed a wide open throw to Kittle over the middle that would have easily led to a 20-yard catch and run, if not more.