Game Snapshot: Lions - 49ers

<b>Detroit Lions</b> (1-3) at <b> San Francisco 49ers</b> (1-3)<br><b>GAME SNAPSHOT</b><br><b>KICKOFF:</b> Sunday, 4:05 ET<br> <b>GAMEDATE:</b> 10/05/03<br><b>SURFACE: </b> Grass<br><b>TV: </b> FOX, Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger<br><br> <b>SERIES: </b> 60th meeting. The 49ers lead 31-27-1, with the 49ers winning the last three games and eight of the past nine.

2003 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 27th (24th rush, 22nd pass); defense 28th (24th rush, 30th pass). 49ers: offense 5th (10th rush, 12th pass); defense 3rd (5th rush, 7th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Lions coach Steve Mariucci makes his first return to San Francisco to play a 49ers team in disarray. But Mariucci's biggest challenge will be getting a team that hasn't won a road game since 2000 over last week's disappointment in Denver. RB Shawn Bryson is giving the Lions signs of life in the running game, which should help QB Joey Harrington open up the play-action passing game to attack the 49ers' shaky secondary. San Francisco needs more consistency from its running game because the more Detroit's defense is brought forward, the more the 49ers can attack the Lions' injury-riddled secondary.

FAST FACTS: Lions: They have lost 18 consecutive road games. Harrington has been sacked only once per every 53.5 career pass attempts, and had not thrown an interception in four of the past six games. 49ers: The team has never started a season 1-3 and reached the playoffs. ... Of WR Terrell Owens' 77 career touchdowns, 28 have come in October. ... QB Jeff Garcia's 5.91 yards per pass attempt ranks 24th in the NFL.

PREDICTED SCORE: 49ers 31, Lions 24

PERSONNEL NEWS
Lions:

PR/KOR Eddie Drummond, the No. 1 PR and No. 9 KOR in the NFC, will miss his second consecutive game with knee/ankle injuries Sunday when the Lions play at San Francisco. It is expected the soonest he could be back is Oct. 19 against Dallas, after the Lions' bye week.

WR Shawn Jefferson has practiced on a limited basis but Lions coach Steve Mariucci says he won't decide until Sunday morning whether to have Jefferson active for the game at San Francisco. Jefferson has a rib injury and missed the 20-16 loss last Sunday at Denver.

QB Joey Harrington has some soreness and possibly a slight swelling in the right forefinger he injured Sept. 21 against Minnesota but he has practiced all week and will play Sunday at San Francisco. Harrington denied rumors that he has a sore shoulder, the result of a run against the Vikings.

WR Az-Zahir Hakim, who averaged 7.7 yards on three punt returns in the Lions' 20-16 loss at Denver last Sunday, will return punts against San Francisco on Sunday. Coach Steve Mariucci is expecting better results as Hakim gets more comfortable in a role he hasn't played for a couple of seasons. Hakim is filling in for injured Eddie Drummond.

RB Avon Cobourne averaged 19.0 yards on three kickoff returns in the Lions' 20-16 loss last Sunday at Denver but he is expected to fill the KOR role again Sunday at San Francisco. With Eddie Drummond out with an injury, Cobourne is returning kickoffs and Az-Zahir Hakim is returning punts.

WR Scotty Anderson probably won't know until sometime shortly before kickoff of the Lions' game Sunday at San Francisco whether he will be active. Coach Steve Mariucci will choose between Anderson, who had a 43-yard reception for a touchdown last Sunday at Denver, or Shawn Jefferson, who is less than 100 percent because of a rib injury.

49ers:
G Ron Stone should play in Sunday's game but has received some treatment for a hip strain. Stone is coming off a rough game against the Vikings, as he was called for two false-start penalties and a hold.

QB Tim Rattay, the team's backup, is third in the NFC in fourth-down passer rating at 110. Rattay completed 12 of 18 attempts for 146 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions last week against the Vikings.

WR Cedrick Wilson will see a small reduction in his play time this week, as rookie Brandon Lloyd will be used in selected situations when the 49ers go with three wide receivers, coach Dennis Ericksons said.

DT DeVone Claybrooks, who was signed this week as a free agent, was excused from the team Thursday after the death of his father.

DT Josh Shaw, whom the league reinstated this week after he served a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, practiced with the team for the first time on Thursday. Shaw is not on the active roster. Coach Dennis Erickson said the plan is to release Shaw next week, then the club must decide whether to place him on the practice squad.

LDE John Engelberger, a second-round pick in the 2000 draft, is closing in on his career-high sack total. Engelberger has 2.5 sacks in the first four games, tying him with LB Derek Smith for the team lead.

DT Bryant Young is the 49ers' only starting defensive lineman without a sack this season. He has recorded just 5.5 sacks since the beginning of the 2001 season.

INSIDE THE CAMPS
Lions:

It's not the going-home part that intrigues coach Steve Mariucci. It's what happens when he and the Lions get to San Francisco that is his biggest concern.

"I suppose I'd be lying to you if I said it was just another game," Mariucci said, "because it's an unusual circumstance to go back to a place that you had been for six years. Other than that, it's another big game."

There will be feelings, obviously, when Mariucci arrives at 3Com Park, where he directed the 49ers to four playoff appearances in six years before getting fired by owner John York last January.

In all likelihood, they will be secondary, however, to his focus on getting the Lions their second victory in five games this season and their first road win in three seasons.

The 49ers are seven-point favorites but they have been going through their own problems, losing their last three games after a season-opening romp against Chicago.

And their most recent loss a 35-7 drubbing at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings brought on a sideline tantrum by wide receiver Terrell Owens. It remains to be seen how the week's events will affect the 49ers.

49ers:
The 49ers are close to getting their starting offensive line on the field for the first time this season.

Sunday against the Detroit Lions, the 49ers will have four of their five starters on the line on the field. They are hoping to get the final piece back for the Oct. 12 game against Seattle.

First, left tackle Derrick Deese will return to the field Sunday. He missed the last three games with a right ankle sprain and practiced this week for the first time since sustaining the injury in the second half of the season opener against the Chicago Bears.

"I think it's obviously great to get Derrick Deese back," 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia said. "He's definitely important to the offensive line. I think it's been a great situation for Kwame Harris. I think that under the circumstances, he did as good a job as he possibly could, and I think he learned from it."

Harris, the 49ers' top draft pick, started the last three games with varying degrees of success. A lot of times the 49ers were forced to keep a back or tight end in to help Harris in pass protection. Harris struggled in Sunday's loss to the Vikings, yielding three sacks.

Deese, a 12-year veteran, is seen as one of the 49ers' better linemen in pass protection.

The 49ers expect to get left guard Eric Heitmann back next week from a right ankle sprain. Second-year player Kyle Kosier has played very well in Heitmann's place and has made a bid to retain the starting job. Kosier also filled in nicely at right tackle the first two games of the season when Scott Gragg was out with an injury.

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