Athletes want to play on the biggest stages. Two USC football stars won’t get that chance when the San Francisco 49ers face the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon. When the Niners host Detroit at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, they won’t have two former Trojans in shoulder pads and a full uniform.
Talanoa Hufanga and Drake Jackson both suffered season-ending injuries a few months ago. A Niner defense which has struggled at times to defend the run, and which can use all the pass-rushing help it can get with opponents double-teaming Nick Bosa, won’t have the services of Talanoa Hufanga and Drake Jackson. The Niners have a lot less depth than they otherwise would have owned due to these injuries. If these two former Trojans had been active and healthy, San Francisco would have more options and more bodies to throw at the Lions, who have a strong running game and do not figure to be a pushover despite their relative lack of playoff experience.
Niners-Lions is Sunday at 3:30 p.m. local time in Santa Clara, 6:30 Eastern in Detroit and the rest of the Eastern time zone. The game is will be aired by Fox Sports.