As we approach tomorrow's matchup in Miami, I've realized that one matchup in particular that I plan on paying close attention to. Joey Porter currently leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks, and of course also leads the league in running his mouth. As Barrows pointed out, Porter usually lines up on the weak side of the offense to avoid dealing with the tight end and thus get a clearer shot at the QB.
The 49ers happen to have one of the best blocking tight ends in the league (the best if you ask the Mikes) in Vernon Davis. As we all know, Vernon Davis is a bit of a talker (shocking I know). Recently, when discussing potentially facing Porter, our own Duke had the following to say:
"I've gone up against the best," Davis said today. "I'm pretty sure, I've gone up against a lot of other linebackers/d-ends who were better than him. And I pretty much won every battle. ... But it's not about that. It's about technique and playing with your heart. I'm pretty sure he's a competitive guy as well. I'm a competitive guy. He's a competitive guy and we're pretty much going to have to get after it."
Joey Porter is a guy who feeds off of trash talk, so I'd imagine he'll be even more fired up for this game than usual. The question for the 49ers is how much they let that dictate their own offense? The 49ers use a lot of motion and on the ball formation changes (as is common place with the Martz offense) so they can clearly get Davis lined up opposite Porter. It's just a matter of how much you want to do that.
When the two of them are lined up, I expect a pretty ferocious battle. Aside from the purely physical talent, there are also the head games that will be played. The Duke seems to be improving himself in that regard and keeping his head in the game. Porter will be the ultimate test of that improvement. If Davis can keep focused against a mouth like Porter and take care of business, the sky's the limit for him.
And for your Saturday afternoon enjoyment, the folks at The Phinsider think the 49ers are "getting a bit mouthy." If you head over to check it out and feel like leaving a comment, try and be respectful. It'll be much more fun though if the 49ers can quiet them down a little bit.