Huard: Preview of Individual Battles

Sep 18, 2009, 2:29 PM | Updated: Apr 4, 2011, 7:51 pm

By Brock Huard

Football is a team game but it’s chalk full of individual battles that turn the tide of momentum. Keep a close eye on the following match-ups Sunday and I bet they make the difference in the outcome.

Offensive Match-Ups
–Burleson versus Shawntae Spencer. Nate showed the explosiveness versus the Rams we have all seen throughout training camp and he must win on his pivot, option, slant, comeback and go routes versus Spencer.

Max Unger/Rob Sims versus Takeo Spikes and Patrick Willis: This is a difficult match-up as Spikes is savvy and physical and Willis is explosive, violent, and one of the top LB’s in the game; however, the 49’ers like to play a base 3-4 defense and that scheme can allow space for offensive guards to get on linebackers. When Sims and Unger get those shots, they must connect and get Spikes and Willis to the ground.

John CarlsonCarlson versus coverage: Much like Burleson showed his form against the Rams, Carlson did exactly what he has done all summer in Week One. I expect Singletary and staff to be much more physical with Carlson, bang him and press him off the line, which gives John even more opportunity if he wins off the ball.

Defensive Match-Ups
Mebane/Cole versus SF interior line: With as much Power/Trap/Downhill Runs that SF likes to use in their scheme, it will be paramount that Cole and Mebane eat up the interior. Will Herring cannot have lineman running free at his ear hole, nor can Lofa Tatupu at less than 100%. The Hawks have contained Gore the last two years, but in ’06, on a Norv Turner system that featured some of the same run game components, Gore did run for 144 and 212 yards.

Babineaux versus Isaac Bruce: Jordan must be very sound in his play action pass technique as Bruce may lack the top end speed he once had, but he is still very crafty and deceptive. Grant will be committed to the box to stop the run often, and Jordan must be sharp protecting the back half of the secondary.

Curry versus Gore: I can’t wait until 1:00 Sunday to watch the first cataclysmic reaction between the two. Stephen Jackson at 6’3 and 240 gave much more of a target, a strong and freakish target, but Gore is short and stout and difficult to deliver a blow to. I expect Curry to be active, this physical match-up fits his eye, and I am sure having one of the greats in Singletary watching will add further fuel to Curry’s fire.

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