KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. Eastern
RECORDS: 49ers 3-5, third place in NFC West; Lions 2-6, fourth place in NFC North
SITE: Ford Field in Detroit
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Bill Maas
NFL RANKINGS: 49ers: offense 26th (15th rush, 24th pass); defense 29th (23rd rush, 26th pass). Lions: offense 12th (29th rush, 6th pass); defense 26th (20th rush, 27th pass)
SERIES HISTORY: 61st meeting. The 49ers lead 32-27-1, including victories in the past four meetings, all of which were played in San Francisco. The 49ers have won nine of the 10 meetings since 1988. Detroit's lone victory during that stretch came the last time these teams played in Detroit, at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1995, when the Lions emerged with a 27-24 victory over the defending Super Bowl champions when San Francisco kicker Doug Brien missed a field-goal attempt in the final minutes.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The 49ers aren't going to hold the Lions to three points like they did to Minnesota last Sunday. San Francisco has lost its past two road games by a combined score of 82-10, having fallen behind 41-0 in both contests, so the first goal is simply being competitive against a Detroit team quickly gaining confidence. The offense is starting to roll in coordinator Mike Martz's system, and RB Kevin Jones' versatility will keep the 49ers from being overly aggressive in attacking the line. Offensively, San Francisco must get a strong effort from RB Frank Gore in order to control time of possession and protect the defense. If the ground game is successful, QB Alex Smith can attack the Lions' mediocre secondary and needs to get WR Antonio Bryant and his 17.9 per-catch average involved downfield.
FAST FACTS: 49ers -- First regular-season game at Ford Field. ... Are 3-0 when Gore has at least 20 carries. Lions -- TE Dan Campbell has 10 receptions, five which have gone for at least 20 yards. His 16.9-yard average leads the team. ... Have a league-leading 63 penalties.
BY THE NUMBERS: 133 -- Net yards the 49ers gained last week against the Vikings, the second-fewest yards gained in a winning effort in franchise history. 63 -- The Lions' league-leading penalty total, an average of nearly eight per game in the first half of the season. They are third in penalty yardage, however, with 502 yards behind Dallas (610) and Washington (551).
QUOTES TO NOTE
"Any time you have success, I'd like to think it would breed more success. At the very least, it breeds some confidence. We're playing on the road. It's something that we haven't been good at" -- 49ers coach Mike Nolan.
"I have never been nowhere that we worked so much fundamentals. Every day it's fundamentals. Every day. In my sleep I'm throwing my arms and going through bag drills." -- Defensive tackle Cory Redding, on how the defense practices under coach Rod Marinelli and defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson.
49ERS GAME PLAN: The 49ers have to do something to slow down the Lions' passing game and keep Mike Martz's offense off the field. If the 49ers were stubborn running the ball against the Vikings and their No. 2-ranked run defense, then you can expect much of the same against the Lions. Running back Frank Gore needs to get a lot of touches early in the game, and the 49ers should not feel as if they have to scrap their game plan if they should happen to fall behind in the first quarter. QB Alex Smith has to be kept out of third-and-long situations, as the 49ers have struggled getting their signals straight on their three previous road games. The 49ers have to do an effective job of getting the ball into the hands of receiver Antonio Bryant off of play-action, after Gore has been established. Defensively, the 49ers will places a lot more trust in linebacker Brandon Moore, who made a great showing in his first game as a starter after taking over for Jeff Ulbrich. Moore gives the 49ers' a physical presence who can attack the line of scrimmage and make plays in the backfield. But he also has to be wary that the Lions can use his aggressiveness against him. The 49ers know what to expect from a Martz offense, having faced him often through the years when he was head coach of their NFC West rival, the Rams. The 49ers need to be concerned with giving up the big play to QB Jon Kitna and WR Roy Williams. The Lions have an explosive offense, and the ability of RB Kevin Jones to catch the ball out of the backfield is a cause for concern. The 49ers will mix and match a lot on defense, but they have not had much success this season against backs who can catch the ball.
LIONS GAME PLAN: Coordinator Mike Martz has the Lions' offense up and running at a high level. In the past six games, they have scored fewer than 24 points only twice and they won one of those games with a 17-point output. The Lions say they are concerned with the 49ers' front four so look for them to continue working the running game to keep the 49ers honest up front. Defensively, the Lions have to get a handle on RB Frank Gore and keep enough heat on QB Alex Smith to keep him from getting the ball to Antonio Bryant, who is averaging 17.9 yards per catch.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--- 49ers FS Keith Lewis, who will be making his second start in place of Mike Adams, vs. Lions QB Jon Kitna, who has attempted the second-most passes of any QB in the league.
--- 49ers LT Jonas Jennings, who is healthy and playing his best football since coming to the 49ers as a free agent last year, vs. Lions DE James Hall, a seven-year veteran who leads Detroit with five sacks.
--- 49ers CBs Shawntae Spencer, who has been inconsistent in coverage and often gives receivers too much cushion, and Walt Harris, who is tied for the NFC lead with four interceptions, vs. Lions WR Roy Williams, who is enjoying a breakout season and living up to his potential as a big-play receiver with 44 receptions for 719 yards and four TDs at the midpoint of the season.
--- 49ers RB Frank Gore, who has gained 672 yards while averaging 4.7 yards a carry and also leads San Francisco with 31 receptions, vs. Lions WLB Ernie Sims, a rookie who leads Detroit with 83 tackles.
--- Lions DT Cory Redding vs. 49ers LG Larry Allen. Redding has moved inside from LDE to pick up the slack for at DT for Shaun Rogers (suspended) and Shaun Cody (dislocated toe). He will be giving away at least 30 pounds playing against Allen.
49ERS: TE Vernon Davis (right fibula) is still listed as doubtful for this week's game, seven weeks after sustaining a fracture Sept. 24 against the Eagles, and is unlikely to play. S Chad Williams, who missed last week's game with a thigh contusion, is questionable, but practiced with the team late in the week. CB Walt Harris is also listed as questionable with a hip contusion, but the club expects him to be available for action Sunday. DE Parys Haralson (right pectoral) underwent season-ending surgery on Tuesday and has been placed on injured reserve.
LIONS: There is at least a chance coach Rod Marinelli might get back two of his injured defensive linemen for Sunday's game. DE James Hall (shoulder) and DT Shaun Cody (toe) were listed as questionable after taking limited work in Lions practices this week. It appears likely that FB Cory Schlesinger, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, will be ready to play but there are indications he might share the playing time with Sean McHugh, although McHugh was listed as questionable with a knee injury.
Game breakdown: 49ers vs. Lions
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