Will Deebo Samuel Play?
One of the biggest questions surrounding the upcoming NFC playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions is the availability of versatile 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel. Samuel suffered a left shoulder injury in last week’s win over the Green Bay Packers, which significantly impacted the 49ers’ offensive performance. However, there is hope as Samuel started practicing on a limited basis on Thursday, hinting at a possible return. His presence in the 49ers’ offense is undeniably advantageous and could tip the scales in their favor.
Stopping the Run
While the Lions’ run defense may be formidable due to their star player, San Francisco’s run game shouldn’t be overlooked. With running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs leading the charge, the 49ers boast the third-best rushing offense in the league. However, the Lions have proven themselves as a strong defensive unit, allowing the second-fewest rushing yards per game. This clash of strengths adds an intriguing dynamic to the matchup, but the presence of 49ers running back McCaffrey gives them an edge.
Aidan Hutchinson’s Impact
The 49ers’ pass rush, led by Nick Bosa and Chase Young, is bound to cause problems for Lions quarterback Brock Purdy. However, the responsibility falls on Aidan Hutchinson, the second-year player from Michigan, to disrupt Purdy’s pocket. Hutchinson has already shown his ability to get to the quarterback with three sacks in the playoffs so far. His performance will be crucial if the Lions hope to advance in the playoffs.
Exploiting the Lions’ Secondary
For the 49ers, providing Purdy with enough time to locate his receivers will be a key strategy. The Lions’ secondary has been vulnerable to big plays throughout the season, allowing the most passing yards in the playoffs and ranking fourth overall in yards given up through the air. This weakness presents an opportunity for the 49ers’ passing game to exploit and gain an advantage.
How to Watch
The 49ers-Lions matchup will be televised on FOX. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET, with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET.