Patrick Peterson spoke to Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about the 49ers.
Q: In terms of this being a rivalry game, what kind of buzz is going on in the locker room, and what sense are you getting from the veteran guys about how important the Niner game is?
PETERSON: This is a huge game. One, it’s on Monday night and two, it’s a huge game for us because this game right here can pretty much solidify the leader of the division as of right now. This is definitely a huge game for both teams from the standpoint of setting yourself up as the leader of the division. It’s an extremely important game for both teams. Of course, we want to do the things that are necessary to come out on top.
Q: Having played in the SEC, you know a thing or two about rivalry games. Do you sense the 49ers are the biggest rival for the Cardinals?
PETERSON: As of right now, yeah. Those guys are where we want to be. Those guys are the NFC West champs. We have a lot to prove. We want to get where those guys are, not only as a football team but as an organization as well. Those guys do so many things to put their team in great positions. That’s the kind of format we’re trying to follow around here.
Q: What do you make of the 49ers receiving corps?
PETERSON: Those guys have great talent at every position. You’ve got Williams, Crabtree, Manningham, Moss, Vernon Davis – those guys have a pretty good, solid receiving corps. Those guys can stretch the field, catch those little five-yard routes and take it to the house. As a young corner, I have to be extremely disciplined and patient. I had an opportunity to guard Crabtree last year. Definitely prepared me for a young, long season for myself. It’s going to be a fun matchup again. It’s always fun to matchup with the so-called big dogs of the NFC West. It’s going to be an extremely fun matchup between me and Crabtree again, but these guys’ forte is pounding the ball, putting their big-boy pads on and playing a physical game. At the back end we have to continue to be ready for those play action passes. We can’t let those guys get those deep balls because that’s what those guys live off – run, run, run and try to throw it over your head for touchdowns. We have to be extremely disciplined as a defensive unit.
Q: Where does Vernon Davis come in as far as you as a secondary preparing for the 49ers?
PETERSON: Hands down, the guy is if not the best, one of the best tight ends in the game. Probably between him and Tony Gonzalez out there in Atlanta. Tony doesn’t have the speed Vernon has. The size and the speed combination that Vernon has makes it extremely difficult not only for the secondary, but for the linebackers as well. He’s a different type of athlete, he’s big, he’s strong, he can fight for those extra yards. He’s different. We have to bottle him up. Our linebackers have to do a good job of covering him in the open field. We have to do a great job of keeping the ball out of his hands and the ball out of the end zone. It’s hard for teams to win ball games settling for field goals. If we do our job as a defense, keeping the ball out of their big-play-ability-players’ hands, I believe we have a pretty good shot of winning the ball game.
We’re going to stay to our scheme. We don’t want to take anything from any other defenses. I believe the system that we have here, it works. It’s proven that it works. We’re not taking anything from any other teams. It’s all about us going out there and executing the game plan to its full potential and getting off the field on third downs. The most important thing is those guys, they love to run the ball so much and try to wear and tear your team down. When those third downs come up, we have to get off the field. Hopefully we can get our offense in good field position.