Lions vs. 49ers: Home finale is chance to play for pride

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Josh Katzenstein of The Detroit News breaks down Sunday's Lions-49ers game at Ford Field (1 p.m. FOX/97.1).

Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman is second in the NFL with 135 tackles, remaining a force despite the 49ers’ other struggles.

49ers to watch

NaVorro Bowman, ILB: After missing all last season with a knee injury, Bowman is back at a high level. Bowman is second in the NFL with 135 tackles and has remained a force despite returning to a team that lost several key defensive players — LBs Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, E Justin Smith and OLB Aldon Smith. If the Lions try to run inside, expect Bowman to be waiting.

Anquan Boldin, WR: Boldin, 35, continues to be a reliable weapon in his 13th season. Although he likely won't reach 1,000 yards for the third straight year with the 49ers, Boldin has 59 catches for 691 yards and is capable of making plays on contested balls and breaking tackles. If he has matchups with Lions CB Nevin Lawson, expect them to be physical.

Aaron Lynch, OLB: In his second season, Lynch is proving to be well worth a fifth-round pick. The 6-foot-5 Lynch leads the 49ers with 6.5 sacks, an improvement on his six as a rookie. His matchup against Lions LT Riley Reiff will be important for both teams.

Detroit News predictions: Lions vs. 49ers


Strong finish: As much as fans of losing teams want them to lose for high draft picks, that thought process rarely enters current players' minds. With two games left, the Lions still have a chance to go 6-2 in the second half. Meanwhile, the 49ers have lost four of five and could use something to feel good about.

Ironman? Lions S Glover Quin has battled through several injuries during his streak of 98 straight games played. After suffering a concussion last week, that streak is in jeopardy and could force one of the best Lions defenders to sit.

Who's running? With starting RB Shaun Draughn nursing a knee injury, the 49ers likely will have to turn elsewhere. Kendall Gaskins and DuJuan Harris are the top backups currently on the roster, and neither is a game-breaker.

Imperfection: Lions K Matt Prater made his first 17 field goals, but missed a 38-yarder late against the Saints. He'll try to start a new streak.

Home finale: This will be the last Lions game at Ford Field this season, and a win would give them a 4-4 record. Considering players know their futures are in doubt with new management coming in, they might try to put on a show for the fans.

Facts and figures

*Lions QB Matthew Stafford has a 106.9 passer rating the past seven games.

*Lions WR Golden Tate has five TDs the past four games and is one shy of his career high (seven).

*Carlos Hyde played seven games and is on injured reserve, but his 470 rushing yards are still 200 more than anyone for the 49ers.

*The Lions are No. 1 in the NFL in red zone efficiency, scoring TDs on 71.4 percent of their chances.

*49ers QB Blaine Gabbert threw three INTs last weekend after not throwing one in three of the previous four games.