As far as any similarities between the two quarterbacks, sharing the distinction of being former No. 1 picks is about as far as it goes. The two are very different quarterbacks who have very different roles within their respective offenses.
Stafford is a game-winner.
He is the focal point of his offense. The Lions are a passing team and they rely on Stafford to deliver the ball to their main weapons in the pass game.
Stafford has at least 350 passing yards in four consecutive games, tied with Saints quarterback Drew Brees for the longest streak in NFL history. He threw the ball a franchise-record 663 times last season for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns.
"He's kind of like a modern-day gunslinger (or) gunfighter,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Stafford in a conference call Wednesday. “He has all the attributes of a football-playing quarterback and then some."
Smith, on the other hand, is considered to be more of a game manager.
The 49ers would just as soon pound the football down opponents’ throats behind a powerful offensive line and a terrific run game than they would put it in Smith's hands. He did not have one 300-yard passing game last season, yet the 49ers were 13-3 in the regular season and a couple of muffed punts away from potential Super Bowl berth.
Smith had 218 fewer attempts than Stafford last season and 24 fewer touchdown passes. He also threw 11 fewer interceptions (16 for Stafford vs. 5 for Smith), which for the 49ers, is the most important statistic of all. Smith set a franchise record last week in a victory over the Packers with his 185th consecutive pass attempt without an interception.
Dating back to last season, the 49ers have not committed a regular season turnover in 26 consecutive quarters, setting a new franchise record.
“Alex Smith has really, really done a great job doing that - (he) embraces what they do,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Smith. “I think last year he had five interceptions total in the year. They were No. 1 in the NFL on turnover margin.”
It’s all about being efficient for Smith. In his last 11 games at home, he has a 10-1 record with 19 touchdowns vs. three interceptions with a 102 rating.
It’s all about making plays in the passing game for Stafford. He’s posted a 105-plus rating 10 times in his career and the Lions are 10-0 in those games.
In goes without saying that the two defenses have very different challenges in front of them Sunday night in San Francisco.
The Lions’ goal should be containing 49ers running back Frank Gore and forcing Smith to beat them with his arm.
The 49ers need to pressure, hurry and sack Stafford in an attempt to try and shut down receiver
Stafford and Smith may have similar draft histories, but they have very different roles on their respective teams, though both are expected to make noise in the NFC this season.