|He may be a tight end, but the 49ers' Vernon Davis plays like a wide receiver, and the Giants will have their hands full trying to stop him Sunday in San Francisco. (US Presswire)|
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has 20 catches for 303 yards and four touchdowns through the season’s first five games. He had two touchdowns, including a 73-yard reception, against the Giants in last year’s NFC Title Game and he added another score against New York in the 2011 regular season.
So it goes without saying that, even though San Francisco ranks 27th in the NFL in passing, defending Davis is at the top of New York’s defensive priorities in Week 6.
The logical choice to pull the bulk of the Davis duty is speedy linebacker Jacquian Williams, but as he pointed out to CBSSports.com on Thursday and reiterated on Friday, he might not see too much of the All-Pro.
“I’m not defending Vernon Davis,” Williams said.
Williams said he defended Davis in the first of the two games against the 49ers last year, but didn’t have to cover him in the NFC Championship.
Tight ends are frequently defended by linebackers, but even though Williams is among the fastest at the position, the Giants seem focused on fighting speed with speed.
“You definitely got to treat him like a receiver, because if he gets going and gets behind you, it’s usually for six,” said safety Stevie Brown, who defended Davis in previous preseasons as a member of the Oakland Raiders.
That means safeties Brown and Antrel Rolle and possibly even nickelback Jayron Hosley could find themselves in coverage against Davis.
Hosley has missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury, but he said he’s “definitely” ready to play on Sunday, which is good because fellow nickelback, safety Will Hill, was slapped with a four-game suspension this week for violating the league’s performance ehancing drugs policy.
Of course, Hosley is (generously) listed at 5-10 and Davis is 6-3, so the Giants rookie will have his work cut out for him.
“There’s a lot of players in the league bigger than me,” Hosley said. “That’s not really my concern. I respect their team and their personnel, but at the end of the day, I got to go out there and do what I got to do for my team. I mean, I’m confident in myself, in my teammates. We work as a team, and we got ways of handling that.”
In all likelihood, the Giants aren’t going to try and defend Davis with just one player, but seeing as the 49ers have the best running game in football, the linebackers will be more concerned with the backfield than Davis.