Former coordinators in Super Bowl LI will face off for the first time as head coaches of their respective franchises in Week 2. Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions look to redeem themselves after a 48-17 loss to the New York Jets to open the season. Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers hope to even their record in the home opener against Detroit.
Take a look at what members of the Lions have to say about the 49ers ahead of Sunday’s contest.
Matt Patricia on shifting his focus to facing the 49ers:
“(We) have to get ready for the 49ers, very complex team, I would say. Obviously extremely well-coached. They have extremely good players on their roster, both on the offensive and the defensive side of the ball. Coach Shanahan does a phenomenal job coaching that team and (we’re) obviously going to be walking into an environment out there in California where they’ll be ready to go. They’ll have all cylinders fired up, I’m sure, after their game this past weekend, too. We have a big week in front of us, unfortunately on a short week, so we kind of have to dive right into it and get going.”
Patricia on the challenges of defending George Kittle:
“Outstanding tight end. Second year here out of Iowa. He’s really come into his own. I think he’s a reliable player for them in their offensive scheme. I think even if you go back under the West Coast roots, there’s a lot of great tight ends that have played in that system through the course of the years. He’s certainly one that demands a lot of respect and a lot of attention. Really a clutch player for them, a guy that’s performed very well on third-down in the red area. He’s a big guy and he has the ability to move vertically into the defense. He has good hands, really is very trusted by the quarterback. I think there was obviously a big connection there for those guys and pushing forward it seems like that has continued. So, probably just a really outstanding player and a really good system fit, which is going to exploit all of his attributes that will make him a really difficult player to defend.”
Patricia on the strengths of the 49ers special teams unit:
“I think those guys probably had some pretty good self-assessments. We had a chance to watch the film and go through it. Those guys are extremely smart and they understand some of the things there that we have to do to improve that. We obviously can’t have that happen. I think what’s important for me right now with special teams moving forward is how dangerous the 49ers are. They have an extremely good returner, they’ve created some huge plays from that standpoint. Very explosive plays. D.J. Reed (Jr.) is definitely a person that we have to be ready to defend and, again, I think that will be a big part of what we do this week.”
Patricia on the challenges of facing DeForest Buckner and the 49ers defensive line:
“Buckner is an outstanding player. Like I mentioned, he and (Arik) Armstead are two very long guys. Solomon Thomas is another guy. (Earl) Mitchell too, one other guy that plays really well in there. There’s a lot of explosive plays with those guys getting vertical off the line of scrimmage and knocking—creating havoc in there for the defensive front. It should be a huge challenge for us up front. They really have great players here on either side ball and certainly their defensive line with the scheme that Coach (Robert) Saleh is implementing there. It’s a very aggressive attacking front that they play. And I think these guys are doing a good job adapting to that and really performing at a high level. And certainly, like I mentioned yesterday, Buckner has done a good job of getting some of those one-on-one isolations and taking advantage of his line to really press through the pocket. So, they roll with a lot of guys through there. (Cassius) Marsh will be another (guy) that you will see in there in pass rush situations and they just do a good job of keeping those guys moving from that standpoint. But, two extremely good players inside. Buckner, like I had mentioned, will definitely be a big challenge for us.”
Patricia on what he has seen from 49ers WR Dante Pettis:
“Another guy, Pettis is extremely fast, extremely—they have some great speed on the offensive side of the ball. But Pettis, not only on special teams being disruptive, but also on offense. I think he’s started to develop there a little bit, too. He has that vertical push threat to him that really kind of stresses the top of the defense. But again, very talented player, young player there, and obviously had a lot of accolades coming out college. And someone that—he will be a dangerous guy in that position. We will have to have great awareness to where he is. I think that’s a good observation by you, I think he can really be a key factor in the game if we don’t do a good job of stopping him.”
Patricia on game planning against the 49ers series of first round defensive linemen:
“Those guys played college football together (Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner), so you can imagine what that looked like coming out of Oregon, too. So, actually I had Armstead’s older brother (Armond) with me a long time ago. Big, long, physical guys. These guys do a great job of playing with their hands. Buckner is really coming into his own right now, obviously kind of had a little bit of a breakout game the other day. I think they’re trying to feature him a little bit more in the defensive line, allow him to do a little bit more, I would call it vertical charge. A little bit of the, he’s got kind of a chop-slap arm-over move that’s pretty effective with his length. So, he’s definitely a problem in the front. I think him combined with Solomon Thomas, who is an explosive guy that they picked up last year. That’s a really good player for them in the front, too. Trying to really just have that system, kind of the attacking sort of front that coincides with the way that they play defense. So, definitely a big challenge for us up front. Very much so a little bit of a different style than what we saw last week but more of one-gap, attacking, load the box—I think he had an extra guy down in the front, allow the linebackers to run, and be very disruptive from that standpoint. So, I think the defensive line is kind of where they’re trying to concentrate and build that momentum off from an attack standpoint.”
Patricia on what he remembers about Jimmy Garoppolo from his time in New England:
“It’s fun to watch Jimmy. I think just being around him for as long as I was, he’s an unbelievable guy. He’s a great guy, he’s got a great personality as far as temperament as a football player, as a quarterback, as a teammate. Just a really good guy to be around. Very much so (a) student of the game, really tries to study and understand everything that the defense is doing and the game-plan. But, there was always something a little bit special about Jimmy in-game. Just that extra light just came on and in the game itself you could just see really how special he was as a player. I think through the course of some preseason games and then obviously a couple regular season games that we had with him, you really could tell how athletic—I mean this guy is very athletic, he’s very mobile, he does a great job of getting his eyes downfield, he’s got an extremely strong arm, he’s very confident in his ability to make plays and he just does a really good job of leading an offense from that standpoint. And the guys, when they step on the field with him during a game, you see that confidence level of everybody pick up, which is really natural. I could see that coming off of what they did last year and rolling into the season with a guy like him stepping in and just everybody gravitating towards him knowing that he’s going to help them win. Really good player.”
Patricia on facing a veteran like Richard Sherman:
“He’s a really long player, he’s athletic, he’s very smart. He really does a good job, obviously, in that defensive system. He’s familiar with it from Seattle. It’s a Seattle-based kind of system as far as that is concerned. And he makes it really difficult to throw over or throw around him with his length and his ability to kind of recognize patterns and routes and receivers. He studies film a lot. This guy is extremely smart now, you want to talk football with a guy like that. And he can just tell you routes, he can tell you receiver strong points, weak points. He can tell you coordinators’ tendencies. He just really does a good job of studying the game. He’s seen a lot, he’s been in the League for a while, so he’s got great experience behind him from that standpoint. So, to me, I thought he played really well. He had some really good situations out there where he made some really nice plays. Like I said, his transition, it looks good. He’s able to get back to the ball. (In) some of the situations I think, ‘Alright, maybe we have a window here or we have a chance to kind of throw the ball in there,’ and his length just keeps showing up, his ability to get that hand in there and knock it away. He does a really good job of reading receivers. He reads the quarterback a little bit and can make some of those plays, but his read on the body language of receivers running routes is excellent.”
QB Matt Stafford on what he sees from San Francisco’s defensive linemen on tape:
“Big and physical. Really their whole defense. Two 6-3 corners, a couple 6-7 guys inside, another one that’s 6-4 and 280 pounds, or whatever he is. There are big physical guys all over the place. Both safeties run and hit, linebackers are good, physical players. So, it’s a really talented defense like you said. They’ve invested some draft picks and some free agent money as well in some guys that are playing key roles for them. And the people that were drafted, they did a good job. Those guys are really good football players.”
S Glover Quin on having extra tape on Jimmy Garoppolo:
“It helps having some film on him from this year and last year. To get a feel for what he did when he came in on short notice and what he carried over to this year and what they are trying to get done. They’ve got a great offense, man. It’s tough. When I first came into the league back in Houston, Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. Going against him at practice, it was tough. He’s definitely developed it over the years and having a quarterback like Garoppolo, he’s doing well."
Quin on Shanahan's successes with his offense:
“They have so much movement. You have to be disciplined. You have to definitely read your keys. And Garoppolo has a very strong arm. He’s very smooth and poised. With the run game and with the stretch game and the boot game and the play action game, it’s a lot of stuff. A lot of misdirection. A lot of window dressings. It’s a lot. It’s tough to prepare for. We’ve got a good challenge ahead."