SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The first victory of the Matt Patricia era will have to wait at least another week as the Lions dropped their second straight contest to start the season, falling to the 49ers on the road Sunday 30-27.
After falling behind by 17 points in the second half, the Lions made a valiant late comeback effort, and had the chance to either tie or take the lead with a drive starting at their 16-yard line with 1:08 left in the game and trailing by three.
But Stafford was unable to convert a 4th and 2 at the Lions' 39-yard line with 21 seconds left, and the comeback came up short. A drop by Lions running back Theo Riddick on third down would have been a first down and turned out to be a killer for the Lions.
As was the case last week in the lopsided loss to the Jets, all three phases played a role in Sunday's defeat.
The defense gave up too many chunk plays, the special teams allowed a long kickoff return that set up a touchdown, and the offense didn't make enough big plays of their own early and late to make up the difference.
Two third quarter 49ers touchdowns, one on a 66-yard run by Matt Breida, and the other a 11-yard pass from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to tight end Garrett Celek gave San Francisco their big third-quarter cushion. The Celek touchdown was set up by a 75-yard kickoff return.
Stafford brought the Lions back with two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Marvin Jones. Jr. and Michael Roberts – he also threw one to Kenny Golladay in the first half – but it was too little too late.
View in-game photos from the Detroit Lions Week 2 game against the San Francisco 49ers.
QB Comparison: Both Stafford and Garoppolo were pretty efficient in this one.
Stafford finished the game completing 34 of his 53 pass attempts for 347 yards and three touchdowns. He also lost a fumble. He had a passer rating of 101.7.
Garoppolo was 18-of-26 passing for 206 yards and a couple of scores. He finished the game with a passer rating of 118.4.
Run defense: After giving up 169 yards on the ground to the Jets last week, the Lions allowed 190 to the 49ers on Sunday.
The Jets hit the Lions for a long 62-yard touchdown on a stretch play to the right a week ago. Breida's 62-yarder Sunday was on a similar play.
Ejection: Lions running back LeGarrette Blount was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after coming off the bench to retaliate for what he thought was a late hit on Stafford after a scramble.
Blount shoved 49ers linebacker Elijah Lee to the ground and was booted from the game.
Strange call: A second and goal play for the 49ers was blown dead early in the second quarter for what umpire Roy Ellison described as an official not being in position to officiate.
After a run on first down, the 49ers quickly lined up to run a play on second down. After setting the ball for play, 49ers center Weston Richburg snapped the ball before the official could get back to his spot behind the formation.
San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan was visibly upset and let the officials know it. It all worked out for the 49ers, however, as their next play was a 4-yard touchdown pass.
Dialing up pressure: Credit the Lions' defense for not letting the inactive status of their best pass rusher, Ziggy Ansah, limit their ability to put pressure on Garoppolo.
Linebackers Jarrad Davis, Devon Kennard, Eli Harold and Christian Jones all recorded sacks in the first half.
The Lions weren't able to generate the same kind of pressure in the second half, but they did get two more from both Davis and Kennard.
Injury report: Lions All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay left the game in the third quarter after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit initiated by fullback Kyle Juszczyk on a short third-down completion. No penalty was called on the play.
Slay was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return. His availability for next week's Sunday night game in Detroit against the New England Patriots will be something to monitor this week.
Riddick left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, but did return.