Analyst Names Roadblocks to Lions Reaching 49ers’ Level Turnaround

Jimmy Garoppolo

Getty Jimmy Garoppolo fires a pass against the Lions in 2018.

The Detroit Lions have been drawing plenty of comparisons to the San Francisco 49ers as a pair of teams that could quickly turn around their NFL fortunes after losing seasons.

We’ve heard plenty of reasons as to why that might be the case, but how about the other side? Recently, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell took a look at figuring out what teams could transition to being the next version of the 49ers and the Lions were the first team he mentioned.

While Barnwell sees plenty of similarities, namely, the injury bug, a lack of interceptions, the possession of a football genius head coach, blowing a ton of games late and also being able to use the draft to upgrade a big weakness, there are a few reasons the Lions might not get over the hump.

Perhaps biggest is the fact that the Lions likely won’t get a shot to draft their version of Nick Bosa in Chase Young coming up in April. Here’s what Barnwell wrote:

“Things fell perfectly for the 49ers in the 2019 draft, as they were able to use the second overall pick on Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa after the Cardinals took Kyler Murray first. Bosa was an immediate difference-maker along a defensive line that morphed into one of the league’s best in 2019.

The Lions would likely love to grab another stud pass-rusher out of Ohio State, Chase Young, at No. 3, but he’s likely to come off the board at No. 2 to Washington. The Lions could get lucky if a team trades up with Washington to draft one of the quarterbacks, but they probably shouldn’t print any Young jerseys in Honolulu blue just yet.”

Another reason the Lions might not be primed to match the 49ers’ rise has everything to do with coaching. Kyle Shanahan is more established as a winner, and while Matt Patricia is good, the fact is, he might not be anywhere near an elite tactician.

Here’s what he wrote on that:

“While Shanahan succeeded as an offensive coordinator with the Texans, Washington and Falcons before getting his head-coaching opportunity in San Francisco, Patricia spent his entire NFL coaching career before Detroit with the Patriots. It’s unclear whether he can succeed without working alongside arguably the best coach in NFL history, and the early returns haven’t been impressive.”

There might be more reasons to think the Lions will become the 49ers in the end, but the pitfalls to this could be equally as big for the Lions to remember in the end.

Analyst Explains 49ers Similarities With Lions

This year, hope has come in the form of the 49ers, a team which went 4-12 a year ago, but surged to the top in 2019 and is now in the Super Bowl after a great run through the playoffs. Thanks to some of the parallels, many have begun to dream.

On the Pat McAfee Show, contributor Evan Fox is a noted Lions fan. He spent some time hyping Detroit up this week as the next team to potentially follow in the footsteps of the 49ers and go worst to first, perhaps even worst to the Super Bowl in 2021.

Here’s a look at what he said on the show as to why that could be the case:

“Don’t sleep on the Lions,” Fox says to laughter. You got Jimmy Garoppolo going down, lose every game. Matthew Stafford goes down, lose every game. That allows them to get Nick Bosa. Lions are sitting there at No. 3, could get Chase Young. Kyle Shanahan’s third year as head coach, Matt Patricia’s third year as head coach.”

At the end of the clip, McAfee said he respects Fox for having such faith in the Lions. That’s true no matter how blind it might seem.

Even Matt Patricia isn’t sure he can predict such a fast turnaround for the team in 2020, but that won’t stop many from believing it is possible.

The Lions have plenty of work to do this offseason in order to try and make this the case moving forward.

Senior Bowl Director Sees Lions and 49ers Parallels

That status could help them have a much better team in 2020 moving forward as some recent history shows. In fact, as Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy explained, there are plenty of parallels between the Lions and the San Francisco 49ers, who coached in the game last year.

Like the Lions, the 49ers had a miserable 2018 season in which they went 4-12 and had plenty of injuries complicating matters for their team. That’s similar to the Lions in 2019. Also similar was how they used the Senior Bowl as a scouting springboard for the team.

The Lions and their fans have to hope that Detroit can pull off such a turnaround for 2020 and go from worst to first, but many believe already that this could be in the works moving forward.

Even such, the Lions have to remember some of the pitfalls they could face.

READ NEXT: Richard Sherman Explains Signing With 49ers Over Lions

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