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NOTEBOOK: Lions look to get back on track vs. 49ers

Last week's poor performance on Monday night in front of a nationally televised audience has Detroit Lions fans in a bit of a panic. Detroit didn't play well in any phase in their 48-17 loss to the Jets, and that's certainly not the way Matt Patricia wanted to start his tenure as head coach.

The Lions have done a pretty good job this week of turning the page on the Jets game and focusing in on the 49ers and what they have to do to right the ship and get to 1-1.

"As far as I'm concerned, we're starting our season this week," veteran wide receiver Golden Tate said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get it done last week. We didn't give our fan base much to cheer about.

"But we're refocused, looking in the mirror, working even harder and excited to get back on the field. Get back on the road against another good opponent and just fix this. We come back to Detroit 1-1, it doesn't matter what we did in Week 1."

Getting to 1-1 does hold some significance, if numbers and odds mean anything.

Since 2007, 91 teams have started 0-2. Only 10 (10.9 percent) of them turned it around to make the playoffs, according to the betting site The Saints (2017), Dolphins (2016, 2008), Texans (2015), Seahawks (2015), Colts (2014), Panthers (2013), Vikings (2008), Chargers (2008) and Giants (2007). The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl that year.

"You go out and win Sunday and you're 1-1," veteran safety Glover Quin said. "There will be a lot of teams that are 1-1 on Sunday. There are going to be teams that won big last week that are going to lose this week and be 1-1.

"You just can't let one game carry over to the next. Better have a good week, travel out to the west coast and play well and get a win against a good team."

Since 2007, the percentage of teams that start the season 1-1 and made the playoffs is considerably higher at 39.4 percent.

Given the fact that the New England Patriots come to town Week 3, getting things back on track and back to .500 would be a big deal this week for the Lions.


Starting right guard T.J. Lang missed his third straight day of practice Friday with a back injury, and has been ruled out for Sunday's game in San Francisco.

It's likely veteran Kenny Wiggins gets the start in place of Lang at right guard.

"He's tough, he's a big guy, he's strong," Patricia said of Wiggins Friday. "He's strong at the point of attack, does a real good job with a punch and his footwork. I would say (those) are all things that we really liked."

Wiggins, who the Lions signed in free agency this offseason, has 46 games and 25 starts under his belt.

"It's the next man up mentality," Wiggins said Friday. "Even if this wasn't the situation, I'd prepare like I was a starter anyway. I've been in a backup role before and I know how to prepare and I know how to go in there and play."

Lang, a Pro Bowler last season, missed three games in 2017, and the Lions had their starting five together upfront along the offensive line for only five games.

This year, the Lions enter Week 2 already needing to shuffle pieces upfront.


Starting defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who left Monday's game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return, said in the locker room Friday he was "optimistic" he'd be able to play Sunday in San Francisco.

Ansah was limited in practice this week and officially listed as questionable on Friday's injury report.

"I just like to be out there playing with my brothers," Ansah said Friday. "It's sad to be going through this."

Ansah said it was a relief, however, Tuesday when he was told the shoulder injury wasn't serious. He had four tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit in just a quarter and a half of action before suffering the injury.

The Lions are obviously much more formidable with Ansah than they are without him.

"I think any time you've got a player of Ziggy's caliber, a pass rusher of Ziggy's caliber, that is certainly is going to impact the game," defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said Friday.

"Certainly it has an impact on the game when you don't have an outstanding player like that."

The Lions will release their inactive players list 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday.


Kyle Shanahan's offense in San Francisco has a lot of moving parts both pre and post snap. They try to create a lot of traffic with movement, and make the defenders' eyes look one way and then create misdirection the other way.

"It's one of the hardest things they do, and that's what makes it so difficult," Patricia said of the 49ers' offense. "Kyle does an outstanding job of using those different pieces in ways that, we call it, eye-control or misdirection type plays where it kind of gets you distracted looking at one way and then all of a sudden someone goes by you in the opposite direction and it's usually a schemed-up play or a schemed-up situation type of play and it's just too late."

The importance of being disciplined on defense is ramped up this week playing the 49ers' offense. They have both vertical and horizontal speed at the skill positions to make that kind of misdirection effective.

"If you take a misstep here or there, then they're out-leveraging the defense to one direction or the other," Patricia said.

"When your eye-control may go from one side and then it moves back to the back side, your eye-control has to come back and recognize what happened. And it just puts a lot of stress on those guys and (Shanahan) does an outstanding job with it."

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