It’s All About Turnovers For 49ers


It was another typical game last week for the San Francisco 49ers. Their defense bent a bit, but rarely broke. Their offense moved the ball a bit,  but punted when it had to. And in the end, it was a forced turnover and playing smart football that ultimately led the Niners to victory against the Green Bay Packers.

This is the formula that the San Francisco 49ers use to make for great NFL odds. And it isn’t changing any time in the near future.

QB Alex Smith threw a grand total of just five interceptions last year. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh rarely put him in a position to fail, and that game plan held true last week as well. Smith went 20-of-26 for 211 yards with two scores, and of course, no turnovers.

And now, here come the not-disciplined-as-all-hell Detroit Lions for Sunday Night Football in Week 2.

Last year, the 49ers committed 6.7 penalties per game, but less than one per game of which were personal fouls of any variety. Detroit committed 7.9 infractions per game, almost two per game of which were personal fouls.

In 2011, San Francisco won the turnover battle against virtually all of its foes, accounting for a +28 turnover margin, easily the best in the league. Detroit, to its credit, was +11 and fourth in the NFL, but its 23 turnovers on offense was a middle of the pack number.

And that’s why, if you look at last year’s game when these two met, there is all the more reason to think that the Lions are in a heck of a lot of trouble. San Fran turned the ball over twice in that game, while Detroit didn’t cough it up one. The Niners also committed 15 penalties for 120 yards in their worst penalized game of the year. The Lions had just six flags for 54 yards. Oh, and that game was in Detroit. This one is at Candlestick Park.

If the Lions couldn’t get to the 49ers last year when the visitors couldn’t play the game that they normally like to play, it’s scary to think just how bad the beating could be this weekend in the home opener for San Francisco.

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