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10 takeaways from Glenn, Johnson & Fipp

Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp spoke to the media Thursday. Here are my 10 biggest takeaways from those media sessions:

1. What makes this week so tough for Glenn to prepare for? He said San Francisco head coach and play caller Kyle Shanahan is the best offensive mind and play caller in the league in terms of his ability to attack different defensive fronts.

2. When watching the tape of San Francisco's defense, Johnson said the thing that jumped out to him was the play of linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw. Johnson said those two are right there with Baltimore's Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen as the best linebacker duo in the NFL. The Lions played the Ravens Week 7 and lost 38-6. It was the lowest number of points they've scored all season.

3. Jack Fox has been one of the best punters in the NFL not just this season but over his four-year career, but Fipp said Fox has been playing his best ball down the stretch this season and in the playoffs. His ability to flip the field and drop the ball inside the 10-yard line has been critical in Detroit's two playoff wins the last two weeks.

4. You can't be a really good running offense without the tight ends and receivers being willing and able blockers. It's a big reason why Detroit's been so good running the football all year long, and really for the last two seasons. Glenn said the 49ers have the best blocking group of receivers they will face all season.

5. If Johnson were to describe what he thinks are the main principles of his offense, what would they be? How would he want someone else to describe his offense? He thought about it for a second and said speed and attitude. He wants an offense that plays fast and physical. That's certainly what he's got here in Detroit.

6. The Lions haven't played outdoors since Dec. 10 in Chicago. Sunday in Santa Clara, California is just the second time in three months Detroit will play in the elements. Fipp likes playing outdoors and had a promising weather report for Sunday.

"We're excited for that," he said. "Winds light and variable east northeast. We got 72 degrees partly cloudy. Should be nice. Should be gorgeous. It'll be a great night. I've told you before I enjoy playing outside."

7. Why haven't we seenedge rusher James Houston back in the lineup? Houston was elevated to the 53-man roster last week when his practice window to return from IR with a broken ankle was up. Houston has been a full participant in practice, but was inactive on gameday.

Glenn said Houston is coming along but explained the real reason why he hasn't been active is Glenn protecting Houston from himself. He's been out since Week 2 and Glenn said he's very protective of players when it comes to injuries. Houston is close to looking like his old self. Could we see him back in the lineup this week?

8. The 49ers have two really good edge rushers in Nick Bosa and Chase Young, but Johnson said he sleeps a little easier at night knowing he's got Penei Sewell and Taylor Decker on his side. Speaking of Sewell specifically, Johnson said Sewell and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown are the tone setters and leaders for their offense.

9. Glenn said the way Purdy gets rid of the ball quickly right when his back foot plants in the ground and how accurately he delivers it reminds him of Joe Montana.

10. One big key for Johnson Sunday is trying to get the 49ers' defense out of their comfort zone. San Francisco does a great job creating pressure with just their front four. They blitz the third-lowest percentage in the league at just 18 percent. That allows them to drop seven in coverage which makes it harder to throw the football.

Can the Lions force the 49ers to blitz to pressure? If so, that takes them out of their comfort zone. Johnson said they haven't seen a front as good at getting off the ball like this 49ers group since the Jets last season.

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