Cory’s Corner: Vernon Davis is a nightmare for Packers

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When the weather is under 40°, Vernon Davis has four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
When the weather is under 40°, Vernon Davis has four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Packers fans have taken a beating by many folks leading up to Sunday’s playoff game.

The green and gold faction has been accused of being soft for the biblical cold that is supposed to engulf the upper Midwest like a tiny blanket that always keeps your feet freezing.

But thanks to sponsors that kicked in the final dough to mark the 320th straight sellout on Sunday while keeping the last time the Packers didn’t sell out was January 1983.

So, a blackout and empty frozen aluminum bleachers won’t be a problem.

But Vernon Davis will be.

At a chiseled 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, Davis might be the most impressive looking athlete on the field Sunday. He’s a huge target that can catch, run and he regularly makes safeties and cornerbacks fold up like lawn chairs. Think of Davis as a carbon copy of Packers’ tight end Jermichael Finley, except a little more sure handed and sure headed.

In a game in which it will feel like -17° at kickoff and drop 7° three hours later, the ball will contract which will make the vertical passing game much more difficult.

Enter Davis. He is second on the team in targets and he has set career highs with touchdowns (13) and yards per reception (16.3). The eighth year tight end has shown this year he’s a favorite of Colin Kaepernick when it matters because of his 52 grabs, 38 percent of them have been made on third down.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers wants to keep this worn and weary defense off the field as much as possible. And now with Michael Crabtree back from injury and playing well, the Packers won’t have the luxury of double teaming Davis because they also have to deal with quasi tight end Anquan Boldin as the other receiver.

Which means, a linebacker will more than likely be matched up with Davis for much of the game.  Which is music to San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Davis’ ears. He can run circles around just about any linebacker in the league — sans his own — and he can run over most defensive backs.

In Week 1 he torched the Packers with six catches on nine targets for 98 yards and a couple touchdowns. And that was with a fully loaded and rested defense. The Packers defense is without its best playmaker in Clay Matthews but overachieving yet injury prone linebacker Brad Jones is probable and looks to play. And if the Packers try to match A.J. Hawk on Davis, Hawk will be able to paint a picture of Davis’ backside after getting burned early and often.

Of course the determining factor is Aaron Rodgers. He does equal everything out. But even he cannot overcome huge defensive losses, an offensive line that has allowed 45 sacks and a cold environment that will more than likely take a little time to get accustomed to.

The 49ers are just a more physical team on both sides of the ball. The offensive line will have a field day against a defense that only has two sacks in the last two games. Eddie Lacy didn’t look right with a right ankle that was tender in Chicago and will be extremely difficult to keep loose in subpar conditions.

Then there’s Davis. If Capers opts to shut down Frank Gore and Kaepernick’s running ability by bunching the box with several linebackers, Davis will be able to release down the seam and turn in big gains.

Tight ends aren’t usually a sexy position but Davis has the body of a linebacker, catches like a slot receiver and can make the moves of a third down back. He possesses all the key traits the 49ers want in order to keep long sustaining drives alive by making this deplorable defense left with blowing steam out of its mouth with its hands on its knees.

The weather will be a factor but Davis supersedes weather. Cold or hot, rain or snow, Davis will beat nearly anyone that guards him. For those that think the Packers have a cold weather advantage are wrong because Davis is the advantage.

And unfortunately in that scenario, the Packers remain the little brother for the fourth straight time.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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  • GBPDAN

    Let’s hope Quarless keeps up the good work and becomes our version of V Davis for this game. Quarless has really come on strong recently.

    • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

      You’re right about that GBPDAN, that catch against Chicago was amazing wasn’t it? He’s been huge the last few weeks, especially while Flynn was playing. Brooks, Bowman, and Willis are all some of the best in the NFL.

  • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

    NOBODY is giving the Packers a chance in this game it seems. I even heard one radio host tell listeners that Kapernick was born in Wisconsin so he’s accustomed to the cold. What he failed to mention is he moved when he was 4 years old. In the last two games the Packers played toe to toe with the 49ers, until Jeremy Ross happened. In each game Ross fumbled deep inside the Packers end of the field and the whole game changed on those TO. One thing Hyde has done well this year is field kicks and punts. Turnovers are going to be huge in this game.
    Davis is a great TE but Davis is going to be a cold TE. I can’t help but think that won’t be a factor. The only game the 49ers have played this season in what could be called cold weather was November 25th at Washington, Davis fumbled. I have no idea if it was cold, wet, or the reason. I just choose to believe that My beloved Packers will have a huge advantage when it comes to the cold. Because if I listen to the “Experts”, I shouldn’t even turn on the game.

    • Chad Toporski

      I picked the 49ers, but I do think the Packers have a decent chance of winning.

      I think the Packers will have the best chance against Davis when Micah Hyde is manned up against him.

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        I do to Chad. That Cowherd on ESPN has been putting the Packers in the grave all week long. Same with Golic on Mike and Mike, the guys on XM-Radio, to name a few. Those are the “Experts” I was talking about. I’d like nothing more than to call in and ask Jim Miller, the Bears ex QB who gives the Pack no chance, “What happened Jim”?

        • Mark

          I haven’t listened to Cowherd in years. However, I remember him as making bombastic statements about who will win and then often being dead wrong. My favorite was back in 2006 when he talked about Vick having the “it” factor and Favre being done. The Packers went into Atlanta Favre showed Vick how it was done. I hope the Cowherd is wrong against this weekend!

          • Steve Cheez

            That’s why they play the games…

      • Razer

        If you have nothing good to say…don’t say anything at all. :o)

      • Stroh

        This is a game I doubt the Packers do much man coverage. That’s what got them in trouble in the playoffs last year. Had the DB’s back to the play and allowed Kaep to run for miles b4 anyone knew he was coming. Mostly zone w/ a few man plays in this game IMO. Have to find a way to balance the zone and man coverages.

        BTW I saw that only 5 of 9 at CBS were taking the 9ers and the spread had dropped to 2.5.

        • http://Allpackers.com Nick Perry

          Well that’s much better than the “Experts” from ESPN. All but Keyshawn Johnson picked the 49ers. For once I think highly of what Keyshawn thinks!

    • Cow42

      “Because if I listen to the “Experts”, I shouldn’t even turn on the game.”

      Oh – go ahead and watch the game… just don’t expect a Packer win. That ain’t happening.

      Last week was this season’s Super Bowl.
      Hopefully we can get our entire defense fixed for next season.

  • Razer

    Over the middle against the Packers is money for most teams. We just don’t have the linebackers for the job. We don’t have linebackers for rushing the passer nor coverage. Hey, wait – isn’t the 3-4 suppose to rely on the linebackers. Yeah, Vernon Davis and a tough as nails Boldin will be trouble for the Packers defense.

    I am not sure how we will schematically neutralize these weapons but we will need outstanding effort by some of our guys. If a guy like Raji or Perry or Brad Jones played lights out we might get the breaks that we need on defense. Players stepping-up will need to be the difference. Who will it be??

    • Matts

      I think the cold + Shields and Williams could be our difference makers. Kaepernick and the receiving corps will be less acclimated to the cold he doesn’t have quite the spiral Rodgers does. I can definitely see some balls dying in the cold and/or wind. Our CBs haven’t had the best season but we know from years past that they are decent at intercepting the underthrown ball. I can just see them being in position to catch a ball or 3 that was underthrown because it was slick/frozen/whatever…

      Of course, all of this requires that we actually stop the run and make the 9ers throw the ball.

  • Savage57

    Either Hyde or Bush are going to have to play Davis deep, and that is a huge concern when you think about Bush playing with his back to the ball. The lead-footed Hawk and Jones had better be on the sidelines for the 3rd and long plays and go dime with Hyde and Bush cheating up to cover Davis and Gore on run/pass.

    Other nightmare matchups. Barclay against Brooks – Ole’ Barclay is going to need help, but giving him help means that Quarless is going to have to chip Smith almost every play and that’s going to reduce some of the downfield effectiveness we’ve been seeing lately. But keeping AR clean is job 1 no matter what.

    Sheilds/Williams vs. Crabtree/Boldin – Both of our smurfs are going to have to tackle well to limit the gobs of YAC that these guys get.

    Biggest issue in this game is going to be the fact that the Niner’s protect with 5, Packers need 6 or 7 and that gives the Niner’s a 1 to 2 man advantage on every offensive play. Same thing when the Pack has the ball, the Niner’s get home with 4 or 5 and get pressures/sacks, but the Packers bring 5 or 6 and get stuffed and give up splash plays.

    That line difference makes this a huge challenge for the Packers and it is that advantage that is going to require some providence and fortune in the way of injuries or turnovers to change and enable the Packers to carry the day.

  • Big T

    Title should be, “Every offense in the league is a nightmare for the Packers defense” I still believe we win this one if we score early and often. Keep Kaperdink on his back. At least the officials will stay dry, Harbaugh’s spit will freeze before it hits them. What is it with him whining to the officials even before the game starts. Someone please kick him in the ding ding…

  • http://jersyal.com tim

    A fast start is a must. They have to fire the fans up, and get the niners to feeling down, noticing the cold it is, how much they want to get back home. Like Starks, Walden, Raji of 2010, this team needs an inspired performance from multiple guys who have been missing in action until now. They need continued greatness from quarless, Jordy, the other WRs and Lacy/Starks. And they need to be mistake free, turnovers. AND need another great Rodgers performance…. A tall order, but I think it can be done. Keeping my fingers crossed. Go Pack!

  • Alex Parkhurst

    2006 Draft

    Number 5 pick – AJ Hawk
    Number 6 pick – Vernon Davis

    At the time I was yelling at the TV for the Packers to take Davis. No such luck.

    No sour grapes with me, in fact, I hope AJ Hawk has the game of his life tomorrow and shows TT, MM and us why we chose him over Davis.

  • http://www.lyrictrumpet.com Bearmeat

    Actually, I think our secondary matches up well with the 9ers passing offense. The Denver Broncos these guys are not.

    The Tramon that has been showing up since mid season should be able to keep Boldin from owning us.

    Hyde and/or Bush on Davis with Burnett over the top.

    Shields will own a gimpy Crabtree.

    LB’s need to play contain in the run game and keep Kap in the pocket.

    IF (and that’s a big if) we keep them to under 150 yards rushing we win. They can’t play a 2 shell pass defense anymore. Lacy/Starks will tear them up if they do.

    I don’t know why, but as the week has gone on, I’ve felt better and better about this game.

    If I were impartial, would I pick GB to win? No. But I’d still think it would be close in GB.

    Do I think GB can win?? Yes. Yes I do. 35/65 chance.

    GO PACK GO!! (And Geaux Saints tonight – assuming a win, I’d rather go to CAR than to SEA next week)

    • Razer

      Now that’s the spirit Bearmeat. We need some guys to step up and we will win this slugfest. I also want the Packers maintenance crew to jack up the 49er’s locker room temp to 75 degrees or so. That’ll make them feel nice and cozy just before they get punched in the face.

      Go Packers

  • GBPDAN

    Lots of talk about our bad Defense, and deservedly so. I wish we were getting more production from our 1st and 2nd round Draft picks on D. Especially better early returns on the latest picks. This D wouldn’t be so bad if our top Draft picks were performing up to there Draft status. Worthy ,Perry, Hawk, Neal , D Jones and Raji. That’s 6 players that could be making a difference. Hawk and Raji were top 10 picks and they play like 4-5 Rd picks.

    I know that it takes time to develop young players, but it would have been nice to see D jones and Worthy show more and contribute productively in their 1st year. I’m completely disappointed in D jones this year. It’s unfortunate that Worthy is recovering from knee surgery, but he show nothing in his first year.

    Neal and Perry are making the transition to OLB and I need to cut them some slack, plus Perry is fighting a foot injury. But, wouldn’t it be great if just 2 or 3 of these guys could have been a deference maker (or just a constant contributer) this year. Just think we’re this D would be.

    This is why winning the bears game probably didn’t matter as far as Draft position in the RD. TTs high Draft picks are iffy on D. I wonder what Harrell is up to now a days?

    • http://Allpackers.com Nick Perry

      What’s concerning is Worthy came off IR and hasn’t seen the field much, that’s if he’s on the 46. Maybe it’s the knee, or the Packers being cautious after watching him play a few snaps. That was number 99 I saw out there a few weeks ago wasn’t it?

  • http://www.HawgNsonsTV.Com HawgNSonsTV

    Packers will Dominate this game!

  • http://jersyal.com tim

    I wish your attitude could rub off on a few more of the packers players hawgNsons. Sometimes I think that’s about half the problem.