I was poking around over at Bleeding Green Nation today and noticed an intriguing FanShot on the front page. According to the article referenced in the FanShot, it is likely that Eagles will have rookie strong side linebacker Moise Fokou handling most of the coverage duties against Vernon Davis. I've always felt Vernon Davis is at his best when a team uses a linebacker to cover him. Whereas a cornerback or even safety could potentially keep up with him speed-wise, one has to wonder what linebacker could keep up with Davis? Julian Peterson in his prime comes to mind (see his game as a 49er against Tony Gonzalez).
This matchup provides some interesting tidbits. Like Davis, Fokou attended the University of Maryland, and both were actually on the team when Fokou was a freshman and Davis was a
senior junior. According to Fokou, he was able to keep up with Davis in terms of speed. At the time Fokou weighed 200 or so pounds, while he's not up to 230+. I know the 40 yard dash time isn't the best indicator of anything, but for comparison's sake, Fokou ran a 4.76 40 at this past combine, while Davis came in at 4.38 back in 2006.
Fokou had plenty to say about the matchup:
"I kind of know what he likes to do and what he doesn’t. I kind of know how he releases. For me, knowing him personally and also watching his career helps me in terms of film study," Fokou said.
"I’m going to be out there talking trash. He’s going to talk trash whenever he gets our defense. We were talking trash over the summer when I worked out with him."
Fokou has a head start.
"He thinks he’s more athletic than most linebackers," Fokou said. "We’ll see on Sunday. Me vs. Davis."
Obviously any player can have a good day against one of the best in the league, so I suppose Fokou could contain Davis. However, I just don't think the odds are particularly good of that happening. One thing that does worry me is if Davis were to get a bit too confident in the matchup, as I think he could get in his own way in this kind of instance. Vernon's physical tools have never been the problem (well hands-issues aside). It's been more about the mental side of the game that has gotten Vernon in trouble.
Whatever the case may be, this could turn into the key for the 49ers hanging with the Eagles. If Davis can dominate this matchup, the 49ers could open up the rest of their offense when somebody gets rolled over to help Fokou. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this potential matchup. Let's hope Alex Smith can pick it apart.