Lions Vs. 49ers: What To Watch For (Besides The Handshake)

The Lions and 49ers meet on Sunday Night Football and hopefully the two coaches can execute a postgame handshake without shoving each other.

The return of the handshake heard 'round the world comes on Sunday night in San Francisco.

Last year's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions was remembered not for the game but for the handshake after the game. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was in a celebratory mode after his team won and he took that happy attitude to Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who was not so happy after his team lost. Harbaugh and Schwartz ended up getting into it a little bit, a small shoving match, which led to the NFL reminding teams that, um, head coaches are not supposed to be fighting on the field.

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That handshake is likely the reason why this game is in primetime on Sunday Night Football. That and these are two very good teams with playoff aspirations. The 49ers are 1-0 coming off of a big time season opening victory over the Green Bay Packers. The Lions are 1-0 after barely edging the St. Louis Rams in Week 1.


Besides the handshake, there are a couple of things to keep an eye on in San Francisco:

49ers passing game vs. Lions secondary: The Lions are likely going to be missing three-quarters of their secondary. The 49ers are a run first team, but Jim Harbaugh is undoubtedly aware of this potential weakness. The 49ers will build around the rush, but after last week's success against the Packers secondary, looking for early attempts at the secondary.

Brandon Pettigrew vs. Patrick Willis/NaVorro Bowman: Pettigrew had eight catches for 42 yards and a touchdown in a back-and-forth battle with All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. The 49ers could very well tag-team Pettigrew with either of their All-Pro linebackers. Calvin Johnson is always the big name in Lions' games, but this red zone battle could prove more important.

In addition to those, the Lions need to start fast. They can't get behind against an extremely talented 49ers defense, one of the elite defensive units in the league. Then again, throwing it deep to Calvin Johnson isn't such a bad strategy.

For more on the 49ers visit Niners Nation and SB Nation Bay Area. For more on the Lions, check out Pride of Detroit and SB Nation Detroit.

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