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What We Learned from 49ers vs. Lions

View select images from the 49ers Week 16 matchup with the Lions.

After scoring touchdowns on two of their first three possessions on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers struggled to maintain a rhythm and keep pace with the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

The 49ers were held scoreless in the second half and dropped their third straight game, 32-17.

The offense racked up 265 yards in the first half before being held to 57 yards in the final two quarters.

Blaine Gabbert finished his day 22-of-33 passing for 225 yards and two touchdowns. NaVorro Bowman led the way on defense with 10 tackles. 

The 49ers are now 4-11 on the season and will finish the year next week at home against the St. Louis Rams. 

Here's what we learned from the team's performance versus Detroit.

Strong Start Yields 17 First-half Points

Over the last few weeks, players and coaches alike have talked about the need to come out of the gates fast. Jim Tomsula went as far as joking that his team might need to run off of the busses on gameday.

Well on Sunday in Detroit, the 49ers certainly answered that call.

San Francisco amassed 265 yards in the first half against the Lions, which was more than the offense had in five games this year. The 49ers also tallied 16 first downs, which was more than they had in eight games.

Gabbert and Co. got things started by orchestrating an 11-play, 80-yard opening possession. Gabbert went 5-for-5 for 33 yards on the drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Celek. The score gave the 49ers their first, first-quarter touchdown of the season.

One quarter later, Gabbert finished another long drive, this time 82 yards, with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith – his fourth score of the year. Smith got leverage on his defender and made the grab on a slant route in the end zone.

The 49ers later added a field goal and entered the half trailing, 20-17.

DuJuan Harris was the unsung hero early on. The running back, signed by the team earlier this week, netted 22 yards on his first touch of his 49ers career. He went on to total 74 rushing yards in the first half, a new career high. Harris also added an 11-yard reception.

The main reason San Francisco trailed at the break was because the Lions cashed in on a Gabbert fumble at the 1-yard line for a touchdown one play later.

Boldin Eclipses 1,000-catch Mark

On the first play from scrimmage Sunday, Gabbert hit Anquan Boldin on a screen for a five-yard gain.

The reception gave Boldin his 1,000th career catch. He is the 13th player in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

Boldin, whose first catch of his career also came in Detroit, is the fifth-fastest player to reach the milestone.

The veteran wideout went on to haul in five passes for 27 yards.

Golden Nuggets

-- Dontae Johnson got the start at right cornerback for the 49ers. When healthy, Kenneth Acker had previously held the job. Johnson had three tackles and one pass breakup.

-- A day after being promoted to the active roster, Hayne got the start at running back for the 49ers. The Australian had spent the last two months on the team's practice squad. He did not field any punt returns, as Bruce Ellington handled that responsibility. Hayne finished his day with 27 rushing yards on nine carries and five catches for 20 yards.

-- Garrett Celek continued to see reps as an edge rusher on the San Francisco defensive line. He did not record a tackle.

-- In Ellington's first 14 games in the NFL, he totaled 9 catches for 54 yards. On Sunday, Ellington grabbed three catches for 55 yards.

-- Phil Dawson hooked a 45-yard field in the first half, marking his first miss of the season that wasn't blocked. The veteran kicker later returned to form with a 40-yard make.

-- The 49ers committed 11 penalties, including seven offsides or neutral-zone infractions.

-- Quinton Dial injured his back in the second half and was announced as questionable to return.

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