ALLEN PARK -- The San Francisco 49ers football team is a good one.
They know it. The Detroit Lions know it.
The Lions have acknowledged that they face a formidable foe this Sunday night on National Television but are far from allowing their respect to turn to awe – or even worse – intimidation.
“Today is probably the last day I’m going to talk about how tough and how strong these guys are,” said Lions center Dominic Raiola. “We have to figure out how to beat them. That’s probably the last question I’m going to answer about how good and how tough this defense is. I already gave them their due now let’s go and prepare to try and beat them.”
The Lions players and coaches have already begun fielding countless questions about the difficulty of the challenge ahead of them.
How impressive was the 49ers season-opening win against the Green Bay Packers? How difficult will it be to run against the 49ers front? How do you deal with all the weapons they have at the offensive skill positions?
The questions endlessly continue and the coaches and players answer. They talk about the talent and depth on the roster, how assignment-sound the defense is, how efficient the offense is. But their focus remains internal.
“I’m worried about what we’re doing but I’m just trying to be nice to you guys (the media),” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said of talking about the 49ers’ strengths.
There is a sense in the Lions locker room that they want this one badly. They all will acknowledge that a win is a win but after losing a close contest to the 49ers a year ago and after hearing all week about how good the 49ers are, how could a competitor look at it any differently?
“As NFL player and competitor I don’t think you ever want to give in to any body’s strengths,” said Raiola. “I think you’re going to compete and run your plays and run what’s called and find a way to get it done. I think that’s our job as professionals.”
The Lions are conscious of but not concerned about what the 49ers can do. Instead, they are focused on what they can do.
“It’s not about San Francisco it’s about us,” said running back Keiland Williams. “I mean, yeah, they have a good defense, they have some good players on that side of the ball. It’s not about trying to prove anything. We are going to go in there and be the Detroit Lions and play Detroit Lions football.”
The Lions aren’t looking up to the 49ers. Rather, they are looking forward to them.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Lions running back Stefan Logan. “It’s going to be a big game. Coach already talked about how big this game is. We want to go out there and do everything we can to get this win.”