As the 49ers prepare to face the Washington Redskins this Sunday, one of the biggest defensive matchups of the day could be Patrick Willis and Donte Whitner against tight end Fred Davis. Through seven games, the 49ers have had a mixed bag of performances against tight ends. Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew made a fairly significant impact with a touchdown grab and Cowboys TE Jason Witten grabbed 102 yards in the Cowboys overtime victory.
Football Outsiders provides rankings of team defense versus various receivers. They rank against the number one receiver, the number two receiver, other receivers, tight ends and running backs. The 49ers rank 17th in the league in covering tight ends.
Week 1 - Zach Miller - 2 rec, 19 yards
Week 2 - Jason Witten - 7 rec, 102 yards
Week 3 - Jermaine Gresham - 4 rec, 51 yards
Week 4 - Brent Celek - 1 rec, 2 yards
Week 5 - Kellen Winslow - 5 rec, 54 yards
Week 6 - Brandon Pettigrew - 8 rec, 42 yards, 1 TD
Week 8 - Ben Watson - 3 rec, 64 yards
It is worth noting the 49ers have only given up one touchdown to a tight end. Donte Whitner was the high profile tight end cover guy early on, but Patrick Willis has taken on more and more of that role. He and Whitner will both likely be prominently involved in the coverage of Davis.
The Redskins are short-handed on offense with Santana Moss out with a fractured hand and Tim Hightower on injured reserve. Ryan Torain will have his work cut out for him at running back, but the Redskins will need big things from Fred Davis if they are going to pull off the victory.