Sep 17, 2012, 8:16 PM EDT
Niners Defeat Lions, 27-19
While one might think that a player who delivered one of the Super Bowl’s greatest plays last February would want to stick with his championship team, Mario Manningham decided to head to a team that gave him an even better chance at another ring.
The former third-round pick out of Michigan told me last week it’s not often that Super Bowl champions can get back to the big game to following season.
So for Manningham, becoming a San Francisco 49er was not only a business decision it was an emotional one as well.
The wide receiver told me whenever he sees a replay of his 38-yard tiptoe catch along the sideline that set up the Giants’ championship-winning touchdown, he feels a sense of “urgency.”
“Oh, man,” he began. “I just remember what that felt like to win. It’s something you can’t explain. I just want to get back there.”
Manningham believed he could join the Niners and make an impact on a team that could pick up right where it left off last season.
After two games the Niners have continued their winning ways. And the fifth-year vet showed his big play ability with a 30-yard reception from QB Alex Smith during San Francisco’s opening touchdown drive.
Manningham is just one of Smith’s potent weapons. Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Frank Gore all played major roles in the Niner’s XX-XX win Sunday night over the Lions.
And all of the receivers know they’ll have to share the football. Manningham said, “We just have to win on every play. The minute you fall asleep the ball may come your way. So we just have to win every snap.
WORTH THE WEIGHT?
In the 2011 matchup between the Lions and 49ers at Ford Field, San Francisco DT Justin Smith had a huge game: 7 takles, 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits and 1 tackle-for-loss.
Most of that destruction was done against Detroit LG Rob Sims.
Sims told me he felt overmatched in that game, like he was just “hanging on.” He said he weighed about 303 pounds last season and decided extra weight might help him against monster defensive linemen like Smith.
“I didn’t put on the weight just for him,” Sims told me during a phone interview. “But I’d be lying if I said my performance last year against him wasn’t part of the reason. He’s so big, so powerful… Having the extra weight wouldn’t hurt. He’s a power guy. The added weight could even things up.”
Sims came into camp at 320 pounds knowing he’d lose some of that in the pre-season. He told me his weight now hovers around 312 pounds.
So has the added bulk paid off?
“I feel like it has,” Sims told me. “I’ve worked hard on technique, which is helping, too. I feel stronger, more stout on pass protection. It’s given me more power.”
The Lions coaches had nothing but praise for the way Sims performed in camp. And Smith’s defensive output was reduced to five tackles.
But the Niners defense as a whole proved dominant once again Sunday night, sacking Matthew Stafford twice, intercepting him once and holding him to 19-of-32 completions (59.4%) and a 78.9 passer rating.
San Francisco was stingy against the run as well, allowing the Lions to rush for 82 yards.
BACKUS AT IT
Lions LT Jeff Backus hit a milestone Sunday night in San Francisco, starting in his 177th consecutive game. That is the most consecutive starts by any player in Lions’ history, and the most by any active linemen (offensive or defensive) and third among all active players.
Backus and line-mate Dominic Raiola have started 157 of those games together. That’s the highest total for a pair of offensive linemen since Art Shell and Gene Upshaw made 161 starts for the Raiders from 1969 to 1981.
The Lions usual offensive line — Backus, Sims, Raiola, Stephen Peterman and Gosder Cherilus — has started 29 games together (12 in 2010, 15 in 2011, and 2 in 2012). That’s the highest total of starts together on the offensive line for any current teammates.
What makes these statistics more remarkable is the fact that Backus has played next to seventeen different left guards since he arrived in Detroit in 2001.
Before Sims arrived in 2010, Backus had four seasons with 3 different starting LGs, four seasons with two different starting LGs, and 1 season with four different starting LGs.
Sims told me, “I want to be the one that can be here for the next ten years.”
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
The NFL Sent a memo to all 32 teams last week reminding them that coaches must stay within the current rules and not venture outside the bench area while the game is in process.
This message was in reaction to Week One in the NFL when the the league felt those rules were being abused with the real officials not working.
The league intends to hold coaches and their clubs responsible for violating these rules by imposing fines. Common sense will prevail when it comes to throwing a challenge flag, calling a timeout or checking on an injured player.
During the Niners’ practice in Santa Clara last Friday, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula reminded his players and assistants to be “organized on the sidelines.”
On Sunday night there were no apparent violations on either sideline.
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Leading up to Sunday night’s game between Detroit and San Francisco, people wanted to talk about the infamous post-game dust-up between head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz last October at Ford Field after the 49ers had come-from-behind to hand the Lions their first loss of the season.
Neither coach would comment on the incident last week. Schwartz declined to answer any of our questions about it. But when we met with Harbaugh, it was apparent there’s a bit of an edge between these teams. Harbaugh called the Lions (quote) “A chippy bunch; a hit-you-late-bunch.” And he said, “It’s well documented.” He told us his players needed to keep their heads on a swivel, and NOT retaliate so they wouldn’t draw penalties.
While things were still chippy during the game Sunday Night, the coaches exchanged a handshake and smile before kickoff, and the post-game exchange was without incident.
MIKEL LESHOURE TO RETURN
Lions RB Mikel Leshoure was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy after two marijuana arrests within a month early this year.
When he returns to practice this week he’s expected to get right back to work. He hasn’t been able to practice, but he’s been in meetings and has done individual work to keep him on track.
When I asked RB Kevin Smith (who finished with 53 rushing yards on 16 carries) what LeShoure’s return would mean for him, he said “I’m still playing football. I don’t think I’m going to be off the team when he comes back. I think more importantly it means another addition to this offense. I’m excited to have him back.”
GINN AND JACOBS
Neither WR Ted Ginn, Jr. nor RB Brandon Jacobs have been able to play a down yet this season.
Ginn — who also returns kicks and punts – was out with a right ankle injury he suffered August 26 in a pre-season game against the Broncos.
Jacobs, who was visibly limping along the sidelines at Friday’s practice, is nursing a left knee injury he suffered August 18 in the pre-season game against Houston. The injury came on Jacobs’ only rushing attempt of the game.
Harbaugh told us both players are very close to returning.
With the number of offensive weapons the Niners possess, there is no reason to hurry either veteran back into action.
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Sunday Night Football Headlines
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- Husain Abdullah wanted to return to football in 2012
- Inside the Super Bowl L and LI voting process
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- Larry Fitzgerald: 2012 was most frustrating season I’ve ever had
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- Report: Jets “really wanted” Brian Hoyer
- Super Bowls L and LI to be awarded this week
- Nick Saban: Rolando McClain was fair to the Ravens
- Idzik’s 0-for-2 start has others taking shots already
- Pro Bowl
- Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
- Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans
- Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
- San Fransisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
- San Fransisco 49ers at New England Patriots
- Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
- Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
- Green Bay Packers at New York Giants
- New England Patriots at New York Jets
- Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Houston Texans at Chicago Bears
- Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons
- New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
- Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans
- San Diego Chargers as New Orleans Saints
- New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
- New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
- Detroit Lions at San Fransisco 49ers
- Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
- Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
- Super Bowl