49ers v. Titans matchups: Vernon Davis vs. the Tennessee secondary

Before the 49ers play the Titans Sunday in Tennessee, I’ll break down the key matchups.

TE Vernon Davis vs. SS Bernard Pollard, SS George Wilson, FS Michael Griffin, CB Jason McCourty and CB Alterraun Verner.

Vernon Davis destroyed the Cardinals last week, but the Cardinals have a bad secondary. They have Patrick Peterson and that’s about it. The Titans have a good secondary.

They have two good cornerbacks – Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty. Verner ranks No.1 on Pro Football Focus and McCourty ranks No.4.  If the 49ers line up Davis at wide receiver occasionally like they did against the Cardinals, Davis will have his hands full.

The Titans also have three good safeties – Michael Griffin, Bernard Pollard and George Wilson. On Pro Football Focus, Griffin is the fifth-rated safety, Wilson is the 20th-rated safety and Pollard is the 42nd-rated safety.

The Titans’ safeties can afford to double-cover Vernon Davis because both Verner and McCourty can cover Boldin one-on-one. The Titans’ safeties have the talent to take away Davis’ deep routes like the Seahawks routinely do.

Advantage: Titans

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  1. Questionable for Sunday: Baldwin (illness), Dorsey (hamstring), R. McDonald (biceps), Rogers (knee), J. Smith (shoulder).

  2. As long as we don’t turn the ball over, this game will be a two score win for the Niners. Lynch went big on the Titans and so did Jamal Charles. And when Russel Wilson played them he got his yards too.
    I know it seems like Kaep has instructions to not run, but in certain games, if all else fails, release the Kraken…..
    30-16 Niners….

  3. I look for AB to go off against this team. FG will run and run and they can double team VD but then AB well get the 140 yards on them. I also see the 49ers realsing CK in this game just to remind teams of what we can do. I love the ground and pound. For some strange reason I have tried to believe the Seachickens are as good as there record, but I just can not. I think we will destroy them in the next match up. JH can not lose 3 in a rowe to the same coach.

    1. Larry, I love your passion. But given SF’s highly conservative approach to offense, do you really think it’s possible for us to “destroy” any good team? If we go up two touchdowns, they are more likely to try to sustain long drives and kick field goals. Even if we had the league’s most potent offense, I believe that would still be their approach.

  4. I’m not so sure about the Titan’s safeties being able to keep Vernon in check.

    I don’t know if either can run with him in man coverage. Vernon eats up zone coverage. The only Safety to mostly keep him in check is Cam Chancellor, usually by hitting him really hard to break up a reception.

    And I think Boldin is crafty enough to get open if he’s with just single man coverage with no hint of a Safety over top. I know Bodlin is slow but the guy knows how to run routes.

    If the Niners run a standard triangle West Coast passing concept on the strong side, there should be something open. But that would require one of the backs to come out of pass protection and go into the flat; something you don’t see them do regularly.

  5. Thats awesome to know grant, whitner n reid both in top 10 at 6, 8 of safeties! The awesome part is reids just getting started! From their play this season not much of a surprise

  6. I already know what Roman and Harbaugh’s plan for offense is. Run, run, run. They are allergic to passing the football it seems. They don’t seem to have any desire to make the 31st ranked passing game any better. They’re praying that Crabtree and Manningham are going to come in and fix all the issues, part of the problem is they do not let Kaep and the passing game get into a rhythm. They’d rather keep running into a 9 man box than pass the football.

    1. I agree with Brad. Particularly against the Colts, in which the one scoring drive featured dominant running, especially by Gore – and the rest of the game he had something like five touches. That was a loss.

      Roman has seemed to make it a mission to establish the pass first this year, giving up on the run early until the passing game fails so utterly he’s forced to return to the run. And the run-blocking line and Gore and Miller save his behind.

      With Kaep locking in on only 81 or 85, and as Grant points out, the Titans’ secondary likely being up to that challenge, this game will likely require dominant running by the Niners to win. I’m looking at a close one in Tennessee, hopefully with solid contributions on the ground by Gore, Hunter, and Kaep for a Niners victory.

      1. And if they stop the run game too, what happens? We have to pass the ball in order to win. The last few games the run/pass split is a giagantic gulf. If they want Kaep to be a playmaker, why have him handing the ball off the whole game? He can’t get any better if they are protecting him and not letting him pass the ball.

  7. Our biggest problem this season is getting our offense going early! That killed is in Seattle, killed us against the Colts, and almost killed is against St. Louis & the Cardinals. We’re on the road against a good and improving team, with a strong offense. We need to set the tone in the passing game short and intermediate passes. Go for the big one later in the game.

  8. This game comes down to Colin kapernick. Can he find a second read and be a threat? This will be a low scoring game. The titans d is pretty solid and jake locker might play so there will be less 3 and outs for the titans.

    If Colin can move the chains, and not just score the home run ball, niners can grind it out and get the w.

    1. Fan77,
      CK has to have a good game and do the things that you alluded to, but I don’t believe that the game has to completely fall on shoulders for a win tomorrow.
      The defense and special teams will need to assist and perform as well.

      I’ve been waiting for CK to have a game that resembles the one he had against the Packers, but I’m starting to believe that that game was more of an exception rather than a rule.
      The Packers were okedoked into believing that CK would run on them the way he did in the playoffs, and it backfired, hence CK’ career passing day.

      CK needs to play mistake free ball and continue to find his spots on when to run in order to keep the defense off balance.

      49ers 24-13

      1. And lastly, get other people outside of Q and VD involved in the passing game. Once the passing game evolves into getting more people touches, the more dangerous this offense becomes. Right now it’s way too predictable.

      2. AES and Prime Time,
        The reason I think it falls on Colin is that teams with a good defense know how to take away a team’s strength. Titans can take away VD and Boldin as first reads. Gore will have a hard time running. If the Niners have a few too many 3 and outs, it could turn into a defensive struggle.
        Sooner or later Colin has to make a good audible or have a methodical drive, a good dink and dunk down the field. That can keep the Titans D guessing which will open up the whole game and field, so the Niners don’t have to rely on a spectacular play. I always think it’s more demoralizing when the Offense just marches it right down the field. That shows dominance. A big Play can also come down to a broken assignment of luck. But consistently driving 6-10 plays say we can shove this where the sun don’t shine and there’s nothing you can do about it….

      3. Fan77,
        Not debating your scenario. My take is that the our defense and special teams will need to make plays as well.

        If Locker is indeed starting tomorrow, I expect him to try to take on the hero’ role by attempting to make something happen on offense that may come back to bit him. Locker may not be completely healthy but feels the urgency to want to play.
        If Locker is not 100% tomorrow, I believe our defense can take advantage of that by taking some chances.

        Also, our special teams is due for a big game. Its time for KWill, LMJ or Cox to bust one for TD.
        I’ve been waiting for the team to put together one complete game in which all facets of the team gel, this could be the one.

      4. Fan I think the 49ers realize that they can’t and don’t need CK to carry them. The defense is controlling games and simply asking the offense to not mess it up.
        CK will take the home run play occasionally if its clearly there. Otherwise it will be a methodical 10-12 play drives, run focused which keeps the defense fresh.

        I’m also in agreement with AES in that the ST units is due for a big play.

        As for TEN, if their smart they will want to play a ball control style to keep it close.

      5. My take is that this may be the game where the other aspects of the offense get controlled and Colin has to adjust, not by running and trying to make the big play, but by evolving and going to that 2nd or 3rd read on a consistent basis. It’s something he will eventually have to do.
        I think VD will have a decent game, Gore may be shut down, much like Grant’s critique from the AZ game. A bunch of little carries for small yards offset by a couple of WHAM big runs.
        I think the Niners will win, but it will be close, they will pull away at the end win by 8 or 9, mainly because the Titans won’t be able to move the ball, not because the Niners dominate offensively. I hope I’m wrong.

      6. Fan say “the game where the other aspects of the offense get controlled and Colin has to adjust, not by running and trying to make the big play, but by evolving and going to that 2nd or 3rd read on a consistent basis. It’s something he will eventually have to do”

        Yup, yup and yup! And I don’t want to hear that we have to wait till MM and Crabtree to get back for this to happen. I want to see CK make the guys around him shine. Whoever it is.

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