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NFC Championship opponent: What the 49ers are saying

What are the San Francisco 49ers talking about ahead of this week's NFC Championship Game against the Detroit Lions at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara? Let's find out:

1. What is the status of 49ers star receiver Deebo Samuel? Samuel played just nine snaps against the Packers in last week's Divisional Round after being tackled hard on a 9-yard reception in the first quarter. He avoided any breaks in his shoulder, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan, but his availability for Sunday is still up in the air.

"It wasn't broken, so that was a really good sign," Shanahan told "It's still hurting too much for us to have any idea on how it's going to heal up this week. We just have to be patient, see how he feels on Wednesday and based on his improvement it will give us a better idea whether he has a chance for the game or not."

2. 49ers All-Pro tight end George Kittle joined The Pat McAfee Show this week where he said he's not surprised at all that it's the Detroit Lions coming to Levi's Stadium Sunday to face his team.

"The way that they play you can just tell that everything Dan Campbell preaches this team is," Kittle said. "It's not fake. They are gritty, they are going to outwork you, they are going to out-effort you."

3. The Lions last played the 49ers in the 2021 regular season losing 41-33 in the season opener. Detroit's a very different team two years later. What is Shanahan's first impressions of Detroit on tape?

"You can see why they're here," he said. "Their defense runs around, hits, plays with a lot of energy, got a number of playmakers over there, and then, their offense is as good as it gets. They've got a great o-line, great quarterback, two great running backs, great tight end and a bunch of good wideouts that play the right way and a hell of a scheme. It's pretty obvious to see why they've been so good this year."

Shanahan was asked about Detroit's cornerbacks in particular on Wednesday. He said they are an aggressive bunch. Being an aggressive group can lend itself to giving up big plays at times, but Shanahan was quick to point out how Detroit ranks fourth in negative plays caused and Detroit's defense is top five in the NFL in takeaways over the last five games. Being aggressive and opportunistic on defense, paired with a terrific offense, is a dangerous combination, per Shanahan.

4. 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk said he started watching Detroit's secondary a little closer starting Week 17 in Detroit's game against Dallas. It's a secondary that's given up some big performances to opposing receivers over the last month.

"We're definitely excited as a unit about the opportunity coming up," he said of the 49ers receiving corps.

5. Kittle was also very complimentary of the weapons Detroit has on offense and the attitude they play with on defense. The 49ers know the Lions are playing with a ton of confidence right now.

"They are hot. They are on a roll right now," Kittle said. "When you have momentum and hey, you're playing for that City of Detroit – like you could see and feel the energy in that stadium. That is a huge wave of momentum that they are bringing with them to California."

6. Shanahan said he sees a lot of similarities between his offense and the Lions' offense, especially with how balanced both units have the ability to be.

7. Linebacker Fred Warner has faced Jared Goff in the past when Goff was in the same division with the Rams. Warner said he sees a different Goff on tape with the Lions.

"Not to say he wasn't good when we played him back when he was with the Rams, but I think he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now with the way he finished, top three in passing yards this season," Warner said. "Just the delivery of the football, his decisiveness and obviously with the amount of playmakers he has on that side he's the one that is leading that group and he's the reason why they're at where they're at right now."

View photos of the starters for the San Francisco 49ers.

8. Warner was asked about Detroit's run game and how hard it is to stop, and he immediately started talking about Detroit's offensive line and how big and athletic they are.

Speaking of Detroit's offensive line, Kittle couldn't say enough good things about Lions center Frank Ragnow. He called him an absolute dog in the middle. The two met at the Pro Bowl last year and Kittle is a big fan.

9. San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy said one of the things Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn does is switch up the looks and coverages every week to keep opponents guessing.

"It's always a little different with them," Purdy said. "There could be some big plays, and there's also plays where they are going to play tight. As a quarterback you have to know they are going to be aggressive, and they can make a play. It's definitely a fine line and once we get in the game we'll get a feel for it and understand what kind of game it's going to be with them."

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