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The 49ers in the "Vernon Zone"

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Fooch's Note: Don't forget to join in our Thanksgiving game thread.  I'd imagine we'll have less traffic than normal today, but we'll have a full assortment of posts nonetheless.

Just under two months ago, I wrote a Red Zone post about Vernon Davis's abilities in the red zone.  The Disease (a nickname we've used for him on occasion here) is in the optimum position to be a consistent red zone threat given his combination of size and speed.  Charles Woodson had a lot of success covering Davis last week, but when Davis was covered by a safety or linebacker, he dominated.  He's faster than linebackers and bigger than safeties.  Simple as that.

When we wrote that post October 8, Davis had 3 touchdowns on the season.  Since then he's added five touchdowns and is enjoying a breakout season.  That has led to a new term: The Vernon Zone (courtesy of bondslegend), which covers the field 30 yards and in.  We've spoken about Davis's red zone abilities, but in reality, he's becoming more and more dominant 30 yards and in, thus the Vernon Zone.

I decided to look a little further into Vernon's 2009 touchdowns.  The folks at (a must-have bookmark for any discerning football fan) have put together touchdown logs for players.  Vernon's log, at least for this season, shows that dominance throughout the Vernon Zone, with touchdowns ranging from 5 yards to 29 yards, four touchdowns 19 yards and in, and four touchdowns between 20 and 29 yards.

All of this is all the more interesting given the amusing discussion in one thread (can't recall specifically) about how the 49ers seem to have one passing play to Vernon Davis.  The over the shoulder throw that he hauls in and then proceeds to get drilled by one or two defenders.  Obviously there are other plays (some screen options for instance), but it does seem like his touchdowns all come on that over the shoulder pass.

This should make for an interesting matchup with Jacksonville on Sunday.  FO ranks the Jaguars 27th in red zone pass defense, and 9th between an opponent's 39-21 yard lines.  This isn't quite the combination of stats we're looking for, but it is something to ponder.  We'll see how this plays out on Sunday.