San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio met with the media Thursday afternoon, and he confirmed what most already figured. Jimmie Ward is the starting nickel back, and Michael Wilhoite will start in the jack linebacker position next to Patrick Willis, who will be in the mike role.
Ward will obviously be making his NFL regular season debut. Wilhoite has some limited starting experience, having played in place of an injured Patrick Willis last year. It's safe to say the Cowboys will attack both of these starters. Ward has the talent to handle it, but I do wonder who the Cowboys send at him. I asked Blogging The Boys about this, and they think the Cowboys mix it up. We could see WR Dez Bryant, TE Gavin Escobar, WR Cole Beasley, and WR Terrance Williams. Ward will seemingly get plenty of different looks.
As for Wilhoite, I do wonder how the Cowboys go at him with their tight ends and running backs. I imagine Patrick Willis gets a lot of the coverage responsibilities, but the Cowboys game plan will probably figure out some ways to get after Wilhoite. I trust that Vic Fangio can counter that, but Wilhoite against anybody will be a key matchup to watch on Sunday.