49ers vs. Lions Review: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The game was close through the first half, but a stagnant offense while being unable to establish a running game throughout the game is what ultimately led to the 49ers 32-17 loss. And while the play of QB Blaine Gabbert was impressive, it wasn’t enough to sustain scoring drives, as the Lions defense created the needed pressure through four quarters while keeping the 49ers scoreless in the second-half.

There were some good, some bad and some ugly. Below are my top three takeaways from each category, as I breakdown, 3 good, 3 bad, and 3 downright ugly things from yesterday’s Lions game.

The Good

  • QB Blaine Gabbert: Say what you want about Gabbert but he continues to win the coaching staff over with his steady play and poise both inside and outside the pocket. Whether extending plays with his arm or improvising on the run, Gabbert proved his worth as he completed 22 of 33 passes for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns (QB Rating 106.2).

  • TE Vance McDonald: The 2013 second-round pick had a bounce back performance after being on my naughty list (The Bad) last week. Last week he had only one catch for 10 yards but Week 16 was a different story as he was Gabbert’s security blanket throughout the day down the seams. A good day by McDonald who continues to impress in his third-season, McDonald finished the game with a team-high five catches for 61 yards and one touchdown.

  • RB DuJuan Harris: The 49ers new shining running back was a pleasant surprise in his first live action with the team as he finished with 11 carries for 73 yards to go along with one reception for 11 yards. A hard runner between the tackles, this looks like the 49ers MO and skill-set they look for in their backfield. Nice job by Harris.

The Bad

  • Missed Tackles: “You can hear ankles breaking from all the way up here,” Chris Myers said. And that’s exactly what happened. Although it wasn’t 23 missed tackles when the team faced the Browns in week 14 — 13 missed tackles is still a lot and needs to be coached up ASAP. Below is a breakdown of the men guilty of this fundamental mistake led by the two starting safeties:

FS Eric Reid (3)

SS Jaquiski Tartt (3)

ILB NaVorro Bowman (2)

CB Dontae Johnson (2)

ILB Gerald Hodges

DE Arik Armstead

CB Kenneth Acker

  • K Phil Dawson: One of the all-time greats, missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt late in the second-quarter which would have tied the game at 17. Unfortunately for Dawson, the ball sailed wide left as he uncharacteristically missed fired. This is Dawson’s second consecutive field-goal miss in back-t0-back weeks of at least 40+ yards.


  • Special-Teams: The 49ers special-teams was caught off-guard as the Lions used a trick play on 4th and 1 @DET 35 (direct snap) in the second-quarter. Something that should be accounted for at all times, they were simply out-coached and Special-Teams coach T-Mac should be the man responsible.

The Ugly

  • Penalties: The 49ers had 11 penalties in yesterday’s game giving up a total of 65 yards of field position. Simply ugly. Below is the breakdown:

Neutral-Zone Infraction (7): OLB Ahmad Brooks (off-sides), OLB Aaron Lynch (off-sides) ILB Gerald Hodges (blitz), DB Jimmie Ward (blitz), DE Arik Armstead, DE Tony Jerod-Eddie, and OLB Eli Harold.

Illegal Shift (1): TE Blake Bell 

Offensive Holding (1): OLB Ray-Ray Armstrong

Defensive Holding (1): CB Kenneth Acker

Defensive Pass Interference (1): CB Tramaine Brock


  • Offensive Line: A quarterback can’t have success if he doesn’t have the proper time to go via his progressions. Too often, Gabbert was scrambling for dear life trying to make something happen. In a nutshell, the line did little in the second-half to keep the team within striking distance as a non-existent running game was a huge factor in the team’s defeat. Not to mention, the pressured sack up the middle in the first-half allowing the Lions to recover a Gabbert fumble on the 1-yard line — which led to the go-ahead touchdown.
  • FS Eric Reid: I hate to single out a player but Reid continues to take poor angles to the ball-carrier. Too often, Reid leads with his head when coming up in run support (diving at ball-carriers legs) instead of wrapping up and seeing what you hit. This in turn, leads to valuable yards after contact. If Reid is to continue being a leader on the backend of the team’s defense he will need to learn to fix this bad habit.
Ryan is the Founder/CEO of NinerFans.com, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at ryan@NinerFans.com or call him at (408) 622-0996.