For as overwhelming as the spread for the 49ers at Eagles game may be, Vernon Davis is in match-up heaven. The Eagles (1-2) might be looking more like a 3-0 team if they were not so vulnerable in the middle of the field. The linebacker and safety situation in Philadelphia is a mess, and the 49ers have the weapons to exploit it.
Kicking off week 4, the 49ers finish their road trip in Pennsylvania when they look to take down the Eagles. Given the personnel for each team, one could surmise that the 49ers are in position to upset the "The Dream Team" by turning their All Pro tight end loose on the Eagles' amateur linebackers and safeties.
Height: 6'3" Weight: 250 lbs Year: 6th 40: 4.38
[continue after the jump for the match-ups]
v. Casey Matthews, LB
Height: 6'1" Weight: 231 lbs Year: Rookie 40: 4.79
Matthews, because of his lineage, has been expected to be the starting inside linebacker for Philadelphia's 4-3 scheme. That's a lot to ask of a rookie who wasn't given a first or even second round grade in most mock drafts. Matthews has only 3 professional starts and is still adjusting to the speed and complexity of the NFL. If Matthews is matched up against Davis, it should be an automatic touchdown. Davis is both too big and too fast for him, and has a lot more game experience.
Note: There has been speculation that Matthews would be benched in place of linebacker Brian Rolle
v. Jamar Chaney, LB
Height: 6'0" Weight: 242 lbs Year: 2nd 40: 4.54
Chaney is the fastest of the Eagles linebackers but still not fast enough to cover the 49er Pro Bowler. I almost feel bad that the linebackers have to start facing him, instead of turned the opposite direction, ready to run. Chaney is also still adapting in his second year with the Eagles. If any of the linebackers are going to be tailing Davis, it should be their quickest one. But like the rest of the defenders Davis faces, it's still a mismatch.
v. Moise Fokou, LB
Height: 6'1" Weight: 236 lbs Year: 3rd 40: 4.76
There haven't been many bright spots amongst the Philadelphia linebackers so there isn't much good to say about Fokou either. Fokou is top heavy and has no chance in man-to-man coverage with Vernon Davis. Like Matthews and Chaney, Fokou is better against the run than the pass, and they still aren't very good at that. If the Eagles have any sense, they won't ask Fokou to cover Davis alone.
v. Nate Allen, S
Height: 6'1" Weight: 210 lbs Year: 2nd 40: 4.52
Allen is a player who is better off playing Alex Smith or the football than trying to win a one on one battle with Davis. I witnessed flashes of good play by the youngster in 13 games last year where he recorded 3 interceptions and 2 sacks. However, he is another Eagle that will be asked to defend Davis but simply shouldn't be able to. From a physical and mental stanpoint, as well as experience-wise, Allen cannot match up with Davis either.
Note: Allen should be replacing S Kurt Coleman against San Francisco
v. Jaiquawn Jarrett, S
Height: 6'0" Weight: 196 lbs Year: Rookie 40: 4.62
Jarrett is a 2nd round pick out of Temple in his rookie season, so there isn't a lot of game film on him and we still don't know what he can do as a pro. What he'll have to do, if he has any chance at all to slow down Davis, is to play the football. It would seem unlikely that Jarrett would get a lot of responsibility covering Davis throughout the ball game, but it is a matchup that can be exploited if and when the time comes.
Since no individual Philadelphia Eagle comes even close to providing a challenge for Davis, I would expect a lot of double-teams and bumping at the line of scrimmage. If Alex Smith can get the ball out quick to Davis, considering the pass rush he'll likely be facing, the 49ers should be able to move the ball successfully against the Eagles.
Jim Harbaugh is going to have to be willing to open up the playbook a little more, providing new creative ways to get Davis and Delanie Walker the ball. The two of them should be in line for big days, and if that happens, San Francisco has a good chance to push their record to 3-1.
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