SANTA CLARA — In case you don’t follow Donte Whitner on twitter, here’s what he wrote this morning: “I’m looking forward to covering ZACH MILLER this Sunday. I hear that he’s one of the best at his position. & they say I can’t cover TE’s..”
Whitner expanded on his twitter comment today at his locker. He explained that part of the reason he’s so confident is because he gets to practice against Vernon Davis every day in practice.
Whitner vs. Miller could be the key matchup of Sunday’s regular season opener. If Whitner gets the best of Miller, the Niners should win no sweat. If he can’t stop Miller, the Niners have a big problem, not only for Sunday but for the entire season. They only have three outside linebackers on the roster (Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson, and Aldon Smith), and none of them are particularly good in coverage. If what “they” say about Whitner is true and he can’t cover tight ends, the Niners will get burned by that position all season long.
Here’s everything Whitner said.
Q: Are you excited for the opportunity on Sunday to cover Zach Miller, one of the league’s best tight ends?
WHITNER: I’m definitely excited for that matchup. We actually have the same agent, so we actually went through the free agency process together. I’m looking forward to it. I’m challenging myself. I’m challenging my teammates. It’s going to come down to some one-on-one battles with me and him. I know he played right across from here. He was in the Bay also. He’s a really good tight end in this league, but I think I see the best tight end in the National Football League here each and every day.
Q: Who said you can’t cover tight ends?
WHITNER: Coming from Buffalo I usually read a lot of the blogs and sometimes even fans. They might not even know which defense you were in, you just might be in the area. It might not be your responsibility but they form their opinion based on what they see form the cut ups. Just a little extra motivation for myself.
Q: You’re going to be doing more than just covering Zach this weekend though, right?
WHITNER: I’m going to be doing a lot of different things, but I think when it comes down to it, when it boils down to it, I would say that he’s probably their 1B as far as if they need a play to go to, and I look forward to be the guy that’s covering him on that play.
Q: With a new offensive staff in Seattle, what does this defense key on?
WHITNER: They’re still a West Coast system, and if you know anything about any West Coast system it’s all the same. It’s timing routes. They might have new wrinkle here or there but all West Coast systems are pretty much the same. You might have a zone running team or they might have some other types of runs in there but as far as the passing game, it’s basically all the same. And as far as stopping the run, stopping the run doesn’t come because of scheme, it comes because of want-to, guys wanting to get the running back on the ground and wanting to put them into those third and long situations. We look forward to playing a West Coast football team and really understanding what they want to do to us early in the week.
Q: You don’t know who the safety next to you will be. How does that impact you?
WHITNER: I don’t think it really impacts me. I know that we’ve become a close-knit group, as far as in the secondary. Whoever you get back there in the safety position, you have to communicate whether you like the person or you don’t like the person you have to communicate or else there’s going to be holes in the defense. Madieu, he’s a really good football player. Dashon’s a really good football player. So whoever’s back there, we’re going to get the job done.
Follow me on twitter @grantcohn.