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October 29, 2012
Pick your poison: Eliminating Vernon Davis comes with a price


Oh yeah, Northern California, there's also a football game today ....

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman says three opponents this year have taken "drastic measures" to make sure Vernon Davis had a quiet afternoon.

"They come into the game saying 'Hey, Vernon Davis will not beat us,' and they've done that," Roman said. "Now the onus goes onto the other players. We're very cognizant of it. As coaches, before the game you're saying, 'Are they going to do this, are they going to do that, are they going to mix it, what's it going to be?' And then once the game starts you get the feel on what they're trying to minimize."

The three teams intent on minimizing Davis were the Jets, Giants and Seahawks In those three games, Davis was targeted seven times and he caught five passes for 65 yards. Against Seattle, of course, he wasn't targeted once, the first time he's gone without a catch in four years.

The trick, as Roman explained, is to make teams pay for lopsided coverages by exploiting them elsewhere. Fellow tight end Delanie Walker, for example, has been a beneficiary of coverages skewed to stop Davis. Walker hasn't had any huge games this season, but his biggest have come against the Jets and Seahawks. He was targeted twice against the Giants but both passes were incomplete.

Against Seattle, Frank Gore found the middle of the field empty because linebackers and safeties had vacated the box in pursuit of Davis and the team's wideouts. The defensive strategy was great in shutting down the 49ers passing game, but Gore ran for 131 yards and averaged 8.2 yards a carry.

Said Roman: "When people try to take away something to go to extreme measures, I think you want to go do something else."

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have one of the best pass defenses in the league this year, and they, too, will keep an eye on the 49ers tight end. But it didn't sounds as if they'd do anything "drastic" to keep Davis out of the game.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson said he and his teammates "glanced" at the Seahawks and Giants games and perused "a couple of clips." But he said the Cardinals wouldn't do any borrowing: "We're going to stick to or scheme," Peterson said. "We're not going to take anything from other defenses. I believe the system we have here -- it works, it's proven that it works. So taking another things from other defenses probably won't be a priority for us."

From the sound of things, it seems like the Cardinals are concentrating more on Gore and the league's No. 2 rushing offense this evening:

"These guys' forte is pounding the ball, putting their big-boy pads on and playing a physical game," he said. "At the back end we have to continue to be ready for those play action passes. We can't let those guys get those deep balls because that's what those guys live off - run, run, run and try to throw it over your head for touchdowns."

--Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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