LIVE game blog: 49ers vs. Lions
(12:45) This is San Francisco's first visit to Ford Field and, while it's not exactly the kind of stadium the 49ers are looking to build now that their setting their sights on new digs in Santa Clara, it's an impressive structure. The Lions first announced plans to build a new domed stadium in downtown Detroit in August of 1996, broke ground to build the thing in November of 1999, then opened the 65,000-seat facility to begin the 2002 season, at a cost of $500 million. So the 49ers better get started on their stadium project if they want to be playing in a new stadium by 2012 … (12:48) There's Detroit Roy Williams mugging for the FOX cameras. "With the defense they play, I may score twice in the first half," Williams brags. "I will have two (touchdowns) before we leave. Kevin Jones may score three times." Wonder if anybody was listening on the 49ers side of the field … (1:01) The 49ers win the toss and will go on offense first. Might as well start there, because that unit - which gained only 133 yards in last week's 9-3 victory over Minnesota - has slipped to 26th in the NFL this week, by far its lowest ranking of the season. But then, the 49ers haven't done much on that side of the ball since their 34-20 win over Oakland in Week 5, and have done virtually nothing on offense since scoring 19 points in the first half of their 48-19 loss to San Diego in Week 6 … (1:06) Frank Gore bursts for a nice 7-yard gain on the game's first play from scrimmage, but he gets stuffed on second down, forcing a third-and-long. But Alex Smith gets the throw away as he is hit, and Arnaz Battle breaks a tackle after catching the pass and turns it into an 18-yard gain to get the 49ers rolling … (1:09) Rolling nowhere, it seems. The 49ers start making mistakes again, and a penalty pushes them back to a third-and-16. It's going to take a big play to get the 49ers out of this hole, and don't count on it … (1:11) But there it is! Instead of passing, offensive coordinator Norv Turner calls a brilliant delayed handoff to Gore. The offensive line completely collapses Detroit's front wall to the left. Gore cuts to the left underneath the blocking, and he's got some room as he turns up field. And there he goes! Gore runs through four would-be tacklers at 50-yard line, then cuts it back to the right. He's gone! It's a 61-yard jaunt to the end zone, and nobody is around Gore as he puts on the brakes in the end zone. Fantastic run, and it's 7-0 49ers with less than four minutes elapsed in the game … (1:15) It's a three-and-out for the Vikings as the defense converges quickly on Kevin Jones on a swing pass out of the backfield, stopping him two yards short of a first down. Ball back to the 49ers … (1:29) The 49ers get something going again, picking up three first downs - including converting twice on third down - to take it from their own 13 down to the Detroit 35, where the drive finally stalls. A long field-goal attempt for Nedney in the sanitary conditions of a dome? No way. The 49ers punt, getting nothing out of another solid offensive drive … (1:33) 49ers back on defense now, and they're playing tough again, stuffing Jones for a two-yard loss on first down. On second down, Kitna is trapped in a collapsing pocket, and he's going down for a sack … but no. He slips away and scoots down the right sideline for a first down. Missed opportunity there for the San Francisco defense … (1:34) But no missed opportunity here! Jones breaks through the line on first down, but safety Keith Lewis comes up and strips him of the ball. Another big play for the defense! Mark Roman recovers, and the 49ers are in business at the Detroit 32 … (1:36) It's Smith to Battle for 12 yards on first down, and the 49ers are moving again. Then Gore for eight yards on the next play. Are the Niners going in again for another TD? Well, no. Gore gets only one yard on third-and-2, and coach Mike Nolan takes no chances on fourth-and-1 from the Detroit 11, and he sends in Nedney for a gimme 28-yard field goal … (1:43) And that's how the first quarter ends, a great one for the 49ers, who lead 10-0 and just stuffed the Lions on defense again for another three-and-out. It's San Francisco's biggest lead - and only lead - on the road this season, and the 49ers will begin the second quarter with the ball deep in their own territory … (1:50) The 49ers are doing everything right. They march right down the field again, with Smith hitting Antonio Bryant for a 23-yard pass on the first play of the second quarter to get things started. Cornerback Dre' Bly gets called for defensive holding two plays later, and the Niners quickly are back in Detroit territory. There's Gore for 20 yards! Then another eight yards. Where has this offense been for the past month? … (1:55) On third-and-one, Maurice Hicks sweeps the right side and is rocked as he lunges for the first down. The ball squirts loose as Hicks goes down, but he gets the ball back. Hold onto the damn thing, Maurice! The officials rule he got enough for the first down, but Detroit coach Rod Marinelli challenge. After the delay, the play stands as called and the 49ers are in business with a first down at the Detroit 14 … (1:58) Big break for the 49ers. On second-and-8, Smith drops back and has nobody open. He checks down to Bryant in the right flat, but cornerback Stanley Wilson is right there to step in front of Bryant for the pick, and he has clear sailing for a game-turning touchdown return. But no! Wilson drops the ball!! It was right in his chest, and he was off to the races for an 85-yard TD return, untouched. It looks like the 49ers are getting the breaks today. After that near-disaster, the 49ers settle for another short Nedney field goal after an 11-play, 73-yard drive. It's 13-0 Niners, and they are dominating the action … (2:04) It's midway through the second quarter, and the Lions still don't have zero net yards passing. Where's that vaunted Mike Martz offense? Detroit entered with the NFL's sixth-ranked passing offense, with the 49ers owning the league's 26th-ranked passing defense. Detroit gets an illegal contact call on Shawntae Spencer for a first down, but emerging defensive star Brandon Moore comes around the corner to sack Kitna for a 9-yard loss on the next play. Kitna throws incomplete on third down, and the Lions are punting yet again … (2:12) The 49ers are Gore-ing the Lions on the ground … literally. Gore goes for 6, 8, 7 and 6 yards on consecutive plays. He now has 142 yards rushing with 5:59 still remaining in the first half - already a franchise record for most rushing yards in half. And the 49ers' line is blowing the Lions off the ball … (2:14) But another promising drive stalls. Smith is sacked for a nine-yard loss on first down, and Hicks - giving Gore a blow - picks up five yards on the next to plays, including a draw on third-and-18. The 49ers have to punt it back, and the Lions will get one final shot to score before the half … (2:20) After being stoned by the 49ers throughout the first half, the Lions finally get something going. The Lions churn out a first down, then another as Kitna hits Williams for a 20-yard pass - Detroit's longest play of the afternoon so far. Kitna hits Williams again for a 14-yard gain two plays later, and all of a sudden Detroit is down to the San Francisco 20 … (2:28) The Lions move to the 14, and for the first time today, they convert on third down to set up a first-and-goal from the 7. Just like that, Detroit is in shape to make it 13-7 at the half, right back in a game in which they have been dominated. After all, the 49ers have given up 21 red-zone touchdowns already this season, by far the most in the NFL … (2:30) But not this time! The Lions go nowhere on three downs, with Spencer blanketing Williams in the corner of the end zone for an incompletion on third down. The Lions have to settle for a 25-yard Jason Hanson field goal, and the 49ers will take it. It's 13-3 San Francisco at halftime, which looks a lot better than 13-7, and the Niners are playing some of their best football of the season, road or otherwise … (2:42) Look at those halftime statistics. Gore has a career-high 148 yards rushing on 18 carries - in just two quarters. Wow! Smith has complemented him with 95 yards passing. The 49ers have a 247-102 edge in total yardage and have dominated the time of possession, 21:19 to 8:41. "Frank's a very good back as well all know," Nolan says as the 49ers return to the field for the second half, "and the offensive line is blocking. But obviously, we've got a whole second half to go. And this is new territory for us." (2:45) New territory is right! On Detroit's first play from scrimmage after the second-half kickoff, San Francisco - getting aggressive on defense - sends Spencer on a corner blitz. Kitna never sees him. Spencer rocks him viciously! And the ball pops loose as Kitna's slammed to the ground. Fumble! Recovered by Marques Douglas! The Lions are challenging for some reason, but it's clearly a fumble. And, yes, the call stands. The Lions lose a timeout, and it's 49ers ball at the Detroit 26 … (2:51) Gore up the middle for eight more yards. The Lions simply can't stop him. But they stop him on second down, for a one-yard loss. That's OK. Gore makes up for it by making a great one-handed grab on a swing pass and then blasting upfield to turn a third-and-3 into a first down at the Detroit 12. But … oh, no. Gore limps to the sideline. Something's wrong with his right leg … (2:54) Without Gore, Michael Robinson goes for two yards on first down and seven on second down, but he's stuffed on a rather predictable off-tackle play on third down, losing two yards, and the 49ers get stopped before the Detroit goal line once again. The Niners have to settle for another Nedney 23-yard field goal. San Francisco's lead is up to 16-3, but it could be more … (3:00) But so what? The 49ers get the ball right back! Another big play by the defense after Kitna hits Williams for a 24-yard gain. Williams is rocked by Derek Smith and fumbles, and Manny Lawson recovers. Take that, big talker! The 49ers are back in business at their own 49 … (3:05) But the 49ers give it right back with their first big mistake of the day. On third down, Smith takes a hit in the pocket, but bounced away and dashes up the middle. But he takes a big lick and fumbles as he's going down. Detroit safety Jon McGraw jumps on the ball, and now it's the Lions in business at their own 46 … (3:12) The Lions take advantage in a big way. Kitna hits Williams for 16 yards on third-and-6 to keep the driving moving, then hits Jones on third-and-5 for an eight-yard gain that gives Detroit a first-and-goal at the San Francisco 6. This time, the Lions cash in. After the Lions get pushed back by a false start, Kitna scrambles away from good pressure on second down, buying time for tight end Dan Campbell to get free. Campbell's wide open in the end zone, and his 8-yard touchdown reception puts the Lions right back in the thick of it at 16-10 … (3:17) Big third-down play here for the 49ers. They have to halt the bourgeoning Detroit momentum and silence the rising noise from the partisan crowd. Third-and-4 from the San Francisco 33, and Smith rolls right and finds Battle in the flat for a clutch seven-yard gain. He fumbles as he goes down! But the ground caused the fumble, and the officials quickly call it that way … (3:19) The third quarter ends with the 49ers facing a third-and-1 at their own 49. Can they hold on to that 16-10 lead going into the fourth quarter? Picking up the first down after the quarter break would certainly help … (3:22) And, yes, the 49ers get it, with Smith rolling to his right on a well-designed bootleg for a five-yard gain. Smith back to pass on the next play, and there goes Bryant, streaking free into the end zone! Smith puts it out there, and … it's just off his fingertips as he can't pull in a diving grab in the end zone. What a missed opportunity! That could have finished the Lions right there. But the 49ers get a 15-yard facemask penalty called on the other side of the field, and now they're nearing Nedney's range again … (3:29) But with Gore now on the sideline nursing a concussion - it doesn't look as though he'll return - Hicks goes nowhere on first down and Robinson loses four yards on second down. Hicks gets six yards back on a third-down pass, taking the ball to the 29-yard line to set up Nedney. But wait! The 49ers are sending punter Andy Lee out on the field. What? OK, there's a timeout to talk it over. Huh? What's to talk over? … (3:31) Nedney trots out and splits the uprights with a 47-yard field goal. It makes you wonder what the 49ers were thinking. Of course they send Nedney out to kick that. There should have been on question. It's 49ers, 19-10, with 12:29 remaining to play … (3:39) It looks like the San Francisco defense is beginning to tire, and it's starting to do a lot of bending. The Lions go right down the field, moving quickly from their own 35 to the San Francisco 15. The 49ers get tough there, as Kitna is chased from the pocket and has to throw the ball away on third-and-8. The Lions are called for holding anyway, and they have to settle for a 33-yard goal by Hanson that makes it 19-13 with eight minutes to play … (3:45) Marcus Hudson gets flagged for holding on the ensuing kickoff, and the mistakes are starting to bite the 49ers again. Another big third down for the 49ers, third-and-3 from their own 22. But Smith allows the play clock to run out. Delay of game! But no. Smith had signaled time out just in time, and after conferring, the officials pick up the flag and give San Francisco the timeout. Then, a great call. Smith drops back, then heads up field on a quarterback draw to pick up the first down. And he gets up and signals first down, showing some rare emotion. Thattaboy, Alex … (3:51) But the drive quickly stalls, and the 49ers have to punt. Lee sails a 45-yarder, and the Lions are called for holding on the return. The Lions start at their own 30 with 4:22 remaining. But they go quickly down the field again, with a lot of help from the 49ers, who are called for penalties on consecutive plays. The first one is the killer, a 26-yard pass interference all on Lewis … (3:58) Now, another consequential play. Kitna hits Jones with a short pass, and he rumbles down the middle of the field, before being dropped by Bryant Young after a 23-yard gain. But the ball pops out! It's ruled a fumble! But then the officials change their call. How can they do that? Mike Nolan is going to challenge. And he does. But replays show that, yes, Jones was down by contact and it wasn't a fumble. The 49ers lose their final timeout of the game, and the Lions are in business with a first down at the San Francisco 16 … (4:00) But the defense steps up to the challenge! Kitna is sacked for a 10-yard loss by on first down by Moore, the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week who is having another huge game. Facing third-and-13, Kitna goes for the end zone. This could be the game right here. But Lewis steps in front of receiver Mike Furrey near the goal line for an interception! He takes it back 24 yards, and now the 49ers can get a much-deserved victory by churning out one first down … (4:01) But this game isn't over. There's 2:26 to go when the 49ers start at their 26, and the Lions can stop the clock with their two remaining timeouts and the two-minute warning. If the 49ers don't get the first down, the Lions will have plenty of time for one final scoring opportunity … (4:03) Gore looks OK on the sidelines, but the 49ers send in Hicks instead for this crucial drive. He churns hard over right tackle for three yards on first down, then does the same on second down over left tackle. But it's still third-and-4, and that's still a long way to go for the 49ers, who are a lousy third-down team. Here it goes. Smith in the shotgun. He takes the snap, rolls right away from pressure … and finds Battle near the sideline for a seven-yard gain. First down! The 49ers are going to win! The offense gets it done at the end to help out another great defensive performance … (4:06) This is beautiful. There still are two minutes on the clock, but the Lions are out of timeouts, so all the 49ers have to do is kneel down three times deep in their own territory to salt away the victory. How sweet it is! After the third kneel-down, Smith flicks the ball backward while the clock still is ticking down. That's the ball game, folks, and the 49ers - a six-point road underdog - have a two-game winning streak after winning for just the fourth time in their last 29 road games. The 49ers are now 4-5 - matching their 2005 victory total with seven games still remaining in 2006 - and it's a whole new season, folks, with the defending NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks coming to San Francisco next Sunday … Check back with SFI later this afternoon and evening for complete post-game coverage and comments.
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