Matthew Stafford took a pounding against the New York Jets Monday night, but he’s proven his toughness year after year, and the veteran quarterback is good to go for Sunday’s Week 2 matchup in San Francisco.
“I was a full participant today,” Stafford said after Wednesday’s walkthrough. “I feel fine. I’ll be good to go.”
Stafford had his knee and shin kicked by left tackle Taylor Decker, but he never left the game. Stafford told the Mitch Albom Show Tuesday that he just hyper-extended the knee a bit.
Later, Stafford was sandwiched between defensive linemen Henry Anderson and Leonard Williams – who weigh a combined 603 pounds – on a second-half pass attempt. Stafford was down on the field for some time after getting the wind knocked out of him. He left the game for one play, but returned the next series.
Stafford’s started 113 straight regular season games dating back to the start of the 2011 season. That’s the third longest active streak behind Philip Rivers (193) and Matt Ryan (132).
He’ll be under center for the 114th straight game against the 49ers Sunday, and the 49ers are preparing for a bounce-back performance after watching him throw four interceptions in his 2018 debut against the Jets.
“A guy like Matt, he’s been there before,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said in a conference call Wednesday. “He’s a guy you expect to rip it up every week. I haven’t looked at the stats, I could be wrong, but I’d be pretty surprised if he has a lot of games like that that go back to back.”
Stafford has thrown four or more interceptions four times in his career before Monday. In the games following those performances he’s combined to throw 10 touchdowns and six picks.
“He’s been one of the better quarterbacks in this league,” Shanahan said. “He’s made of the right stuff. Lots of guys come out and sling it around and usually early in their career they have those bad pick games and a lot of guys can’t recover. Matt’s been through that. That stuff doesn’t bother him. We all know how talented he is, but it also shows how mentally tough he is.
“I fully expect to get Matt Stafford at his best on Sunday.”
GOLLADAY’S GOOD START
Second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay was one of the few bright spots for the Lions Monday night vs. the Jets.
He caught a career-high seven passes for 114 yards, and also forced a fumble and recovered it after a Stafford interception to give the ball back to the offense.
Golladay brings the kind of length (6-4, 213) and physicality to the Lions' receiving corps they haven’t had since Calvin Johnson retired. Players are expected to take big leaps in development and production in their second season, and it was good to see Golladay get off to the kind of start he did to kick off his 2018 campaign.
Golladay is still kind of figuring out how to use his size and frame to his advantage, according to head coach Matt Patricia, so Patricia believes the young receiver is just starting to scratch the surface of the player he can be.
“I think he’s a guy that just has steadily improved,” Patricia said. “I think he’s really tried to understand his role in the offense. I think he also is really trying to understand kind of his physical traits. He’s kind of growing in that aspect, how to use that to his advantage as he works through the game and works through different coverages that he’s seen.
“I really thought he played at a high level. I think he went out and made some really big plays. I think he showed he can play big and play strong and just compete."
There will be a big education process that takes place for Golladay the more he produces like he did Monday, as he subsequently gets greater attention from the opposing defense, but that’s all part of his maturation process moving forward.
“I can’t make myself like GT (Golden Tate) and how he moves around,” Golladay said. “I can’t play like that. I have to play to my size and that gives me an edge.”
CHALLENGES UP FRONT
The Lions didn’t allow a sack last week, but Stafford did take some big shots throughout the course of the game.
Things don’t get much easier for Detroit’s offensive line this Sunday in San Francisco. The 49ers have spent first-round picks on defensive ends Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner and defensive tackle Arik Armstead over the past few years.
“These guys do a great job playing with their hands,” Patricia said of the 49ers defensive front. “Buckner is really coming into his own right now. Obviously, kind of had a little breakout game the other day. I think they’re trying to feature him a little more on the defensive line.”
That 49ers' front was extremely effective last week in Minnesota, sacking Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins three times (Buckner had 2.5 himself) and hitting him a total of six times.
The 49ers play more of a one-gap, attacking system with Buckner and Co. being asked to get up the field vertically and make plays in the opponent's backfield.
“Definitely a big challenge for us upfront,” Patricia said. “A little bit different style than what we saw last week. Much more of kind of a one-gap attacking, load the box, get an extra guy on the front, allow the linebackers to run and be very disruptive from that standpoint.”
The 49ers' defensive front ranked fifth in the NFL last year forcing 53 negative run plays. They can push the line of scrimmage, and the Lions' offensive line better be ready for a battle come Sunday.