Senior Bowl director draws comparison between Super Bowl finalist 49ers, Lions
Mobile, Ala — It might seem a little early to start peddling hope for the 2020 NFL season, especially coming off a three-win campaign, but Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy sees some parallels between the Detroit Lions, who are coaching one of the two teams at the event this year, and the San Francisco 49ers, who coached here in 2019.
Yes, the same 49ers that punched their ticket to the Super Bowl on Sunday with an empathetic win over the Green Bay Packers.
"Looking at what happened yesterday with San Francisco, I'm not saying Detroit is going to have the home-field advantage in the playoffs next year and be in the Super Bowl, but there are some parallels to the San Francisco losing Jimmy (Garoppolo) and ending up here and Detroit losing (Matthew) Stafford," Nagy said during a news conference on Monday night. "I think that's a pretty good roster Bob (Quinn) and Matt (Patricia) have put together up there, but you get decimated you get decimated."
Nagy, a University of Michigan graduate, previously worked with the Lions general manager and coach in New England, where he worked as an area scout.
But back to the 49ers.
In 2018, Garoppolo suffered a torn ACL in the closing minutes of the 49ers' third game. The team would go on to lose 10 of its final 13 games, earning the No. 2 pick in the draft.
The 49ers used that draft pick on edge defender Nick Bosa and added two more key pieces to the defense during the offseason, signing linebacker Kwon Alexander and trading for accomplished pass rusher Dee Ford. Those changes fueled a unit that went from a bottom-five scoring defense to a top-10 group.
Comparatively, the Lions lost Stafford deeper into the season, at the midway point, but the impact was just as devastating. With their starter, the team was 3-4-1, failing to close out several close games. But without him, the Lions went winless in the second half.
"I love David Blough," Nagy said, referencing the Lions' third-string quarterback who started the final five games. "I met him last year after our game. We met in the Atlanta airport. He came up to me and we talked a long time. Awesome kid, but he was an undrafted rookie and they played with him a good part of that year."
After stumbling to the finish, the Lions hold the No. 3 pick in the draft this year. With that asset, they'll try to follow the 49ers' worst-to-first script.
"I'm excited to see what Detroit can do coming out of this game, if they can have that similar turnaround or somewhere close to that, like San Francisco did," Nagy said.
Super Bowl LIV
Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
When: 6:30 p.m., Feb. 2
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Fla.
Line: Chiefs by 1