There were a lot of other duties that took precedence today.
But now that the kids (and their father) have gone ice skating . . . now that the lights are up . . . and now that the fake snowman is secured in the front yard . . . now we can get on to another tradition.
The matchups for Sunday’s game.
But first . . .
Pass-rusher extraordinaire Fred Dean, who was inducted this year into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will be honored during a halftime ceremony at Candlestick Park.
The current 49ers’ pass rush ranks among the bottom third in the league with 22 sacks. Dean recorded 17.5 sacks all by himself in 1983. The current 49ers could definitely use someone of Dean’s ilk for today’s game against Brett Favre and the N.Y. Jets.
“Being the legend that he is and will some day be a Hall of Famer, I would get pleasure out of it,” Dean said of the opportunity to sack Favre. “I wouldn’t try to hurt him, but I’d like to lay him down softly a couple times.
“I would get some pleasure out of that. I hope to see some of the fellas get pleasure out of it this weekend.”
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Niners center Eric Heitmann vs. Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins: It is doubtful Heitmann will be left to handle Jenkins much one-on-one. After all, Jenkins is a 350-pounder and might be the best nose tackle in the game today. But the expectations for Heitmann have been increased after offensive coordinator Mike Martz went ga-ga over Heitmann, saying he’s the best center he’s coached in 17 NFL seasons. Martz said what makes Heitmann stand out is that he has great strength in his hips and extra quick hands. This is his biggest test of the season.
Receiver Isaac Bruce vs. cornerback Darrelle Revis: Bruce has come on strong as quarterback Shaun Hill has gotten more familiar with the person who best knows this offense. Bruce has 13 catches for 192 and two touchdowns in the past two games. Revis, a second-year pro, has a team-high four interceptions. He’ll jump some routes, so Bruce will see if he can take advantage of the young man’s inexperience.
Running back Frank Gore vs. Jets run defense: It’s mostly been two Frank Gores this season. Home Frank and Road Frank. Home Frank is considerably more productive. Gore has averaged 96.8 yards a game at Candlestick. On the road, his average is nearly 40 yards per game less. This will not be easy today, as the Jets own the fourth-rank run defense in the league. If Hill and the offense can experience some success passing, that could soften the Jets defense for the run game. Gore needs 74 yards to become the first 49ers player in club history to rush for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.
Strong safety Michael Lewis vs. tight end Dustin Keller: Lewis will have his hands full against Keller. Lewis at times is a fifth linebacker for the 49ers because of his play in run support. He is a strong, powerful presence in the secondary. Keller’s game is predicated on speed. The rookie is quickly turning into the Jets best weapon in the passing game. In the past four games, Keller has 27 receptions. Manny Lawson and Mark Roman will probably get their shots at covering Keller, too.
Outside linebacker Roderick Green vs. left tackle D’Brickashaw
Defensive end Justin Smith vs. left guard Alan Faneca: It’ll be too high-priced players going against each other. Both cashed in big time in free agency. Smith signed a six-year, $45 million deal, while Faneca was lured away from the Steelers with a five-year, $40 million contract this year. Both are snap-to-whistle type of players, so this pairing deserves a look from time to time.
Inside linebacker Takeo Spikes vs. fullback Tony Richardson: As the strong inside linebacker, Spikes will undoubtedly meet
Punter Andy Lee vs. punter Reggie Hodges: OK, these two will never be on the field together, but this matchup could be key, nonetheless. Lee absolutely destroyed Bills punter Brian Moorman last week and that had as much to do with the outcome of the game than anything else. Hodges will be facing a backup 49ers return man with Allen Rossum out for another game. Arnaz Battle might be back deep for the first time in quite a while. Hodges has done a good job since taking over the duties several games into the season. He has an unremarkable 41.8 gross average, but a solid 38.2 net average. Lee is coming on strong with a 47.2 gross and a 38.4 net. The Jets’ Leon Washington is a threat to take it all the way. He has an 11.4 average on 25 returns.
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The 49ers, in partnership with InnVision, TurningWheels for Kids and Yahoo!, will assemble 49 boys bicycles and 49 girls bicycles for underprivileged children in
Shaun Hill, Arnaz Battle, Marcus Hudson, Roderick Green, Mark Roman, Delanie Walker, Chilo Rachal, Tully Banta-Cain, Josh Morgan, Tarell Brown, Parys Haralson, Reggie Smith, Cody Wallace and others are scheduled to spend their day off at the 49ers facility in
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Isaac Bruce is teaming up with international hunger relief organization Feed The Children to provide 400 pre-identified families with a 25 pound box of food and a box of personal care items on Tuesday at
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If you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them here before posting my game blog from Candlestick on Sunday.
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