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Niners' aide avoids Ryan's route, praises Lions' Johnson

Rob Ryan ate a generous helping of crow after telling the world that Detroit's Calvin Johnson wouldn't even be the first- or second-best receiver on the Dallas Cowboys.

Vic Fangio, the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, took notes.

In anticipation of facing Johnson in the flesh on Sunday, Fangio made it clear he's got nothing but respect for the Lions' weapon.

"First off, I want to say he would be the best receiver on our team, not the third best. So we have a tremendous amount of respect for him," Fangio told The Sacramento Bee on Thursday.

Not that Johnson needs any extra motivation, but after he lit up Ryan's defense for 96 yards and two fourth-quarter scores in the Lions' 34-30 come-from-behind win over Dallas in Week 4, the Niners aren't biting.

Fangio labeled the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson a more powerful version of Randy Moss and basically dished out nothing but compliments: "He's just a rare guy. He's that big, but yet runs as fast as he does. He's a real challenge for you in the coverage area."

Fangio doesn't generate headlines like the mouthy Ryan, but his defense speaks for itself, giving up a mere 15.6 points per game, third best in the league. Whether they can shut down the Matthew-Stafford-to-Megatron connection is a different story -- especially in front of the Ford Field rowdies -- but San Francisco's 4-1 start appears to be the real deal.

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