SAN FRANCISCO -- Frank Gore figured the Detroit Lions counted on him getting the ball on a second-and-three situation Sunday night, with the 49ers looking to kill the final few minutes of their home opener.
Instead, quarterback Alex Smith faked a handoff to Gore and found Vernon Davis for a 23-yard touchdown completion, sealing an eventual 27-19 win at Candlestick Park.
"I knew they were going to bite on the run," Gore said while praising offensive coordinator Greg Roman's play call.
Gore has started his eighth season in strong enough fashion to make defenses take notice. Sunday's 17-carry, 89-yard output included a 1-yard touchdown run that opened the second quarter. It gave the 49ers a 14-6 lead against Detroit's touted defensive line.
"They've got a great front seven, but my offensive line came out ready to play," said Gore, who ran for 112 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers' season-opening win at Green Bay.
Right guard Alex Boone added: "He did a great job finding the crease and hitting the holes. He's an elusive player and I love it." Rather than an ordinary onside kick after Detroit's final touchdown, the Lions' Jason Hanson popped his kickoff over the 49ers' front line before Kyle Williams chased it down and fell on that vital football at the 49ers' 25.
So ended Williams' triumphant return to Candlestick, where he botched two punt returns in last season's NFC title game. Williams' only punt return Sunday went for 8 yards as he again filled in for an injured Ted Ginn Jr. Lions defensive end Cliff Avril got in multiple scrapes with 49ers opponents. He poked Davis in the eye while throwing him to the ground in the first quarter, and he also pulled right tackle Anthony Davis to the ground by grabbing Davis' helmet. "He tried to do a lot to me. He hates me," Davis said of Avril, who engaged in Twitter feud with Davis after last season's meeting. The Lions didn't abandon their running game the way most 49ers' opponents have been prone to do. They had 26 carries for 82 yards, including Kevin Smith's 16 carries for 53 yards. Randy Moss saw limited action. He had a 14-yard reception on the only pass targeted for him, although he also drew a pass-interference penalty in the end zone to set up Gore's touchdown run on the next play. The 49ers were 1 of 7 on third-down conversions before Michael Crabtree's hat trick of first-down catches on their final touchdown drive. The Lions committed eight penalties for 67 yards; the 49ers five penalties for 62 yards. In a pregame presentation, kicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee received trophies for their 2011 Pro Football Weekly Golden Toe awards. Third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien was active for the first time in his two-year career. He is the backup holder to Lee, who missed some practice time last week with a thumb injury. Safety Trenton Robinson, a sixth-round draft pick, was the 49ers' only rookie to suit up. Their top three draft picks were inactive -- wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, running back LaMichael James, guard Joe Looney -- as was undrafted tight end Garrett Celek. The 49ers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 21 consecutive home games, the league's longest current streak. Gore's 45th career rushing touchdown moved him into a third-place tie in 49ers history with Ken Willard. Roger Craig and Joe Perry each had 50 rushing touchdowns. Vernon Davis (eye) and tight end/defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs (right leg) suffered first-quarter injuries but returned after brief absences.