Tulloch, Durant and Levy combined for 27 tackles last week against the Rams and did not allow a run longer than 9 yards to Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson.
Cunningham knows full well he’ll need a similar effort this week against a powerful 49ers offensive line and a terrific run game led by running back Frank Gore.
“Just like Steven Jackson, although he's about 5-foot-2, he packs a load,” Cunningham said of Gore. “Jackson runs high so you can get him down around the legs. (Gore) drops his pads. He's like a bowling ball going up field and we have to close off the lanes.
“Green Bay, they tried to close off the lanes (in a loss against the 49ers last week). They packed everybody inside and he popped it outside for about a 20-30 yard touchdown. He's a very gifted back and he's tougher than doornails.”
Which means the Lions will have to be as good of tacklers as they were last week against the Rams.
Gore has averaged 125.3 yards in four career matchups with the Lions and had 141 yards and a touchdown in a 25-19 victory against them last year.
If the Lions are going to contain Gore, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz knows his linebackers have to play well again this week.
"I think the important thing is that we play good team defense. We tackle well, we hit our gaps," he said. "And if we do miss, we miss with leverage so the other guys are there to clean it up. We did a pretty good job of that in the first game and we need to continue in that vein. Long runs can be tough to overcome defensively and that’s a big point that we need to (emphasize) not only this week but throughout the course of the season.”
UP TO SPEED
The Lions signed free agent cornerback
With the news Friday that Houston is doubtful Sunday with an ankle injury, and the team already ruling rookie starter
“I’ve never seen anyone pick it up as quickly as him,” cornerback
Cunningham told reporters Friday that Florence was in his office last Tuesday, just two days after signing with the team, and five days before their first game of the season, wanting the call sheet for the Rams game.
“It was a little early, but we got it to him as fast as we could,” Cunningham said. “I'm glad he's here too.”
FORCING THE ISSUE
The 49ers are protecting the football better than anyone in the NFL, and their turnover-free streak could reach record-breaking heights Sunday against the Lions.
The 49ers haven’t committed a turnover in six consecutive regular-season games dating back to last season, the second-longest streak in NFL history. The 49ers can match the record set by the 2010 Patriots on Sunday.
Conversely, the Lions forced 34 turnovers last season, third most in the NFL.
So what gives?
“I was part of a team that had 132-plus (turnovers) in ten years when I was coaching with Marty (Schottenheimer),” Cunningham said. “You just keep coaching the same way. We play hard, we play tough and the ball has got to come out.
“They come in bunches like guys wanting sacks. You just have to keep working and then all of the sudden they come. Turnovers, same thing. I'm sure it's on (our defense’s) mind (the 49ers) haven't turned it over. I hope it stays on their mind.”
Leading the way through this turnover-less streak for the 49ers is quarterback Alex Smith, who hasn’t thrown an interception in a franchise-record 185 consecutive regular-season passes. Smith threw just five picks last season as the 49ers committed a NFL-low 10 turnovers.
“He’s very smart with the football and that plays into what they want to do,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Smith.
“Sometimes you can get a label as a ‘game manager;' I don’t know if any quarterback wants to best be known for not throwing interceptions or not turning the ball over. He goes out and makes plays. He did it last year in the playoffs, he did it down the stretch, and he did in the first game this year. He’s more than just the game manager; he’s a good quarterback in the NFL.”
Johnson went locker-to-locker Friday handing out personalized autographed copies of the popular video game, which features him on its cover.
“It’s really cool he personalized it,” Hilliard said.