On Tuesday, we took a look at all of the sacks the San Francisco 49ers gave up against the Green Bay Packers over at Niners Nation. The gist was that left tackle Joe Staley struggled mightily against Clay Matthews (who doesn't?), while the rest of the line actually put on a strong outing. That's including right guard Alex Boone, who is starting for the first time at this level and at a new position.
Against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Boone, Staley and the rest of the offensive line will be challenged again. Against guys like Ndamukong Suh and the rest of that defensive line, San Francisco faces at least a comparable test to what Matthews and Green Bay was able to bring. It's a different kind of test though, as Green Bay relies on a few key players, while Detroit relies on a rotation that is instructed to get the quarterback and do nothing else.
This is evident by the fact that Detroit boasts a below average run defense. For all the fear Suh can instill in opposing quarterbacks, he's lackluster in his stoutness against the run. That could mean great things for San Francisco's impressive list of running backs, even if it could mean another tough day for Staley and a tough outing for Alex Smith.
People are talking about how smooth and fluid San Francisco's offense looked, and many are talking about how a repeat performance will surely mean a win over the Lions. But that's not required for San Francisco to win this game. Sure, Detroit has a much-weakened secondary, but Smith doesn't need to have that kind of performance to beat the Lions.
The best plan of attack for the 49ers is to exploit that pass rush. Detroit's biggest takeaway from San Francisco's Week 1 matchup was probably the weaknesses of the offense line. Their gameplan will center around Smith, especially after his performance. Frank Gore has had questionable effectiveness off and on because teams around the league have always put the focus on him. That's not going to be the case in Week 2.
Smith now has eyes on him, and he'll be demanding respect from the defense. That's the perfect opportunity for Gore, Kendall Hunter and everyone else to run wild and pick up some easy yardage before the Lions realize what's happened. Getting that running game going will be essential for San Francisco's 2-0 start.