Gore, O'Sullivan lead Niners past lowly Lions

September 22, 2008 5:24:47 PM PDT
The Detroit Lions thought Mike Martz was part of the problem. So far in San Francisco, the offensive mastermind has been the solution for the 49ers' years of offensive awfulness.

Frank Gore rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown, and Martz's new offense methodically chewed up his former team's defense in the 49ers' 31-13 victory over Detroit on Sunday.

Isaac Bruce and Delanie Walker caught TD passes from J.T. O'Sullivan, and kick returner Allen Rossum scored a 1-yard TD rushing on fourth down near the goal line to all but clinch the win for San Francisco, which is 2-1 for the second straight season.

O'Sullivan went 16-for-23 for 189 yards for the 49ers, who went 3-10 after their promising start to last season. But the current Niners clearly have more offensive talent -- and a much better idea what to do with it, thanks to Martz, who joined San Francisco a few days after Detroit fired him as the scapegoat for the Lions' second-half collapse in 2007.

Martz has brought immediate respectability to the 49ers, who had the NFL's worst offense in two of the past three seasons. San Francisco gained 370 total yards against the Lions -- just 4 fewer than San Francisco managed in any game last year.

Rudi Johnson rushed for 84 yards and turned a short catch into a late 34-yard TD for the Lions. Detroit is headed into its bye week with its fourth 0-3 start in eight years -- no surprise for a team with seven consecutive losing seasons and the NFL's worst record over the last eight years.

Jon Kitna passed for just 146 yards on his 36th birthday for the Lions, and the veteran hobbled off the field after Parys Haralson sacked him with 1:50 to play.

Roy Williams had just two catches for 18 yards, and Calvin Johnson didn't make the first of his four receptions until the third quarter. Rudi Johnson looked good while getting most of the snaps in place of rookie Kevin Smith, but Detroit managed just 67 total yards in the first half and couldn't catch up.

Martz's 49ers looked good almost from their opening series. Gore's 33-yard run late in the first quarter set up an easy TD catch by Bruce -- the 85th of his career, but the first with the 49ers after 14 seasons with the Rams.

Martz's most creative call was a double end-around on San Francisco's third series, and Arnaz Battle took it 18 yards. Gore finished that drive with a 4-yard TD run early in the second quarter despite juggling the pitchout for a frantic moment.

After Jason Hanson hit the first of his two field goals for Detroit, O'Sullivan replied with three long passes for 72 yards, culminating in Walker's 24-yard catch down the middle for the backup tight end's second NFL score.

The 49ers all but put it away with a 12-play, 77-yard drive, finishing with a gutsy fourth-down call by Martz after coach Mike Nolan initially sent out his field goal unit. After a timeout, Rossum took a handoff and outran Detroit's defense to the corner, diving to reach the end zone.

The Lions finally scored on Johnson's 34-yard romp after a short catch with 6:57 left, but Hanson's terrible onside kick was returned by Battle to the Detroit 12, setting up a field goal.


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