SAN FRANCISCO — The overwhelming consensus among 49ers defenders is that Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver they will face today. And perhaps the best there is, period.
They kept the man known as Megatron out of the end zone last season, and that will be the No. 1 priority again Sunday night in a Week 2 conference showdown at Candlestick Park in the defending NFC West champion Niners' home opener.
And the coaches plan to play nice this time, too. When the 49ers rallied for a 25-19 win at Ford Field last October to hand the Lions their first loss following a 5-0 start, Jim Harbaugh enraged Detroit coach Jim Schwartz with a firm backslap and handshake — and the two even had to be separated coming off the field.
"We're both NFC teams. We're both 1-0. We were both playoff teams last year," Schwartz said. "Last year doesn't matter."
While everyone has long since moved on, or so they say, San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis acknowledges that moment did plenty to fire up the 49ers going forward.
"I'm sure Coach Harbaugh's not worried about that. It's in the back of his mind," Davis said. "We don't need any distractions. ... Coaches get upset just like the players. I don't think it's a big deal. It just makes the game that much more interesting and that much more exciting when you see coaches getting fired up like that. It definitely made me fired up for the next game. It was like, &‘We got Harbaugh going crazy like this? Oh, yeah, I'm all for him.'"
Schwartz and Harbaugh have seen each other since and were civil.
Both will have plenty of other issues today than to stew about "mini-controversies," as Harbaugh put it this week, from 11 months ago.
"I do believe that's a thing of the past," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "Tempers were flaring. Coach was happy that we won. They were probably upset that they lost in their home. Each year's a new year. But we do expect a physical team, and we do expect a physical game. We understand that they are upset (about us) coming up there last year and beating them."
San Francisco's stingy defense already shut down 2011 MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week at Lambeau Field, where the 49ers snapped an eight-game losing streak with their first victory in Green Bay since 1990. Next challenge: Matthew Stafford, another prolific passer with big-play potential, and Johnson.
Johnson had seven catches for 113 yards in last year's meeting but didn't score. That after he became the NFL's first player with nine TD receptions in the initial five games of a season.
He had six catches — with a 51-yarder — for 111 yards in Detroit's 27-23 victory against the Rams last week. Yet he was listed on the injury report during this week with a foot problem.
"I always get geeked up for games like this because your back's against the wall," said 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown, who at 5-foot-10 faces a significant height disadvantage defending the 6-foot-5 Johnson.
Stafford threw for 355 yards against the Rams last week, completing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Smith for the winner with 10 seconds left. But he also threw three interceptions.