James Hawkins, John Niyo, Justin Rogers and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News offer predictions for Sunday’s Lions-49ers game at Ford Field (Fox/97.1)
► James Hawkins: Talk about a tough opening draw for Dan Campbell and his crew. On defense, the Lions have the added challenge of preparing for two quarterbacks in Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Trey Lance, who have different strengths and styles. On offense, the 49ers’ stout defensive line figures to put the pressure on rookie Penei Sewell in his debut. And it doesn’t help that of the teams Jared Goff has played at least four times in his career, the 49ers are the only one he has a losing record against. 49ers, 24-13
► John Niyo: We haven’t seen enough of the new-look Lions offense to know what it’s capable of, really. But we know what this 49ers defense can do, particularly up front with a game-wrecking pass rush. And that’s more than enough to predict there’ll be too many negative plays for Jared Goff & Co. in the opener. 49ers, 31-17
► Justin Rogers: Nothing about this matchup suggests the Lions have a chance. San Francisco’s offense has too many weapons, amplified by the deceptive play designs of coach Kyle Shanahan. Detroit’s defense should be better than last year, even significantly better, but it’s a lot to expect them to be comfortable in the team’s new scheme right out the gate. Offensively, it might be even worse for Detroit. There’s still plenty we don’t know about the unit, based on limited preseason reps, but if the practice-field performance is indicative of anything, they’re going to struggle generating big plays and avoiding mistakes. 49ers 29, Lions 13.
► Bob Wojnowski: The 49ers can hurt opponents all sorts of ways, but the most punishing way is with their pass rush and Nick Bosa. The Lions’ offensive line has to show its purported strength, whether tackle Taylor Decker plays or not. With San Francisco’s pressure and the Lions’ dearth of big-play receivers, Jared Goff will need to be precise and quick. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t scary at quarterback, but tight end George Kittle sure is. The home crowd gives the Lions some early juice, but it won’t be sustainable. 49ers 33-17