The 49ers play the Dolphins Sunday at Candlestick. In the meantime, I’ll break down five key matchups.
SLB Koa Misi, WLB Kevin Burnett and RCB Nolan Carroll vs. TE Vernon Davis
I expect the Dolphins to follow the Rams’ defensive blue print against the 49ers by using a two-deep zone to try to force Colin Kaepernick to check it down.
With strong safety Reshad Jones playing a deep zone, Vernon Davis will match up mostly against the Dolphins outside linebackers – Koa Misi and Kevin Burnett.
Those two are not fast enough to run with Vernon Davis, so they’ll bump him at the line of scrimmage and play underneath coverage, allowing the deep safeties to help them out over the top.
Greg Roman and John Morton should plan on putting Vernon Davis in motion to avoid the bumps and to help him get a clean release at the line of scrimmage.
Also, Roman and Morton should sometimes line up Vernon Davis at wide receiver against the Dolphins right cornerback, Nolan Carroll, who’s having a terrible season. The 49ers starting split end, Mario Manningham, is doubtful to play, and Davis is the 49ers best option to fill in at that position.
If Greg Roman and John Morton’s game plan shows some creativity with Davis, and doesn’t just line him up at tight end every snap, the 49ers should win this matchup easily.