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Mercurial Riddick leaves 49ers empty-handed

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Detroit — Safeties Eric Reid and Jaquiski Tartt and defensive lineman Arik Armstead were among the 49ers players left wondering how they missed tackles on Lions running back Theo Riddick on Sunday.

49ers' NaVorro Bowman knocks Lions running back Theo Riddick out of bounds but after Riddick got a first down in the fourth quarter.

As he gained 63 yards on seven receptions, Riddick made several San Francisco defenders look foolish with his lightning-quick footwork, but even he couldn’t explain his affinity for juking away from tackles.

“To be honest with you, I’m not even looking at them, man,” Riddick said after the Lions’ 32-17 win. “I’m just trying to score touchdowns, so if guys are in my way, I don’t even know what I’m doing, to be honest with you.

“I’m just on autopilot, so it’s a shock to me, just as it is to you guys.”

All of the dazzling plays this season helped Riddick break a record Sunday in his third year with the Lions. With 668 receiving yards this season, Riddick now holds the franchise record for running backs in a season, breaking fullback James Jones’ mark of 662 from 1984.

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“He’s been playing extremely well,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “He’s tough to handle. Every single time he gets the ball in his hands he usually makes something happen, comes up with a big play for us.

“He’s a pretty remarkable player.”

Riddick added seven carries for 20 yards in the game, too, and he’s now doubled most key statistics from his second season — receptions (34 to 76), receiving yards (316 to 668), carries (41) and rushing yards (129).

Riddick is just one reception shy of Jones’ franchise record 77 from that 1984 season, too.

“He’s got great instincts,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “And as a quarterback, (he’s) somebody that makes sense when they’re running routes, somebody that’s easy to throw to.”

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

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