Detroit Lions’ Dan Campbell not looking ahead to 49ers yet: ‘Right now it’s about us’

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions open the 2021 season in 95 days, but the last thing on head coach Dan Campbell’s mind for now is their Week 1 opponent, the San Francisco 49ers.

“We have to get our house in order before we can think about San Francisco, I know that,” Campbell said Wednesday before the Lions’ second practice of mandatory minicamp.

In an offseason truncated by COVID-19, the Lions have lost valuable classroom and on-field time installing their new offensive and defensive systems.

They did not have the voluntary early-spring minicamp that is customary for teams with new coaches, and they close the formal part of their offseason program Thursday, after two weeks of organized team activities and three minicamp practices.

OTAs typically last three weeks, after a month of in-person conditioning and light Phase 2 practices.

Quarterback Jared Goff has hosted multiple throwing sessions with receivers in California to help flatten the learning curve, and he said he likely will have at least one more before training camp opens next month.

2021 PREDICTIONS: Will Lions top six wins in 17-game season?

“It’s a constant work in progress,” Goff said. “We obviously have work to do and anytime you’re in a new offense with a new scheme and new players and everything, there’s always work and there’s still work to do — a ton of work to do. But we’ve got our eyes on the 49ers. Finish up this week strong and get ready for training camp.”

The 49ers, with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback and the return of injured stars George Kittle and Nick Bosa, should enter the season as one of the favorites to win the NFC.

They went 6-10 last season and finished last in the ultra-competitive NFC West, but reached the Super Bowl a year earlier, where they squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Kansas City Chiefs.

MINICAMP OBSERVATIONS: Defense outshines Jared Goff, offense

The Lions are coming off three consecutive losing seasons, and Campbell, in his first full-time job as head coach, said his “sole focus is on getting these guys fundamentally better inside of what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively” right now.

“Look, we’re expanding into some of these things with our guys, some of these guys we think can help us or guys that we think can create separation or potentially mismatch players, we’re beginning to expand what we think they can do a little bit or see where we can take them, if you will,” Campbell said. “But right now, man, this is where we’re at. Let’s get our guys right. There’ll be time to start working on San Fran, and right now it’s about us.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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