49ers key matchup No. 2: Brown vs. Fitzgerald

October 28, 2012, 5:10 pm
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This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Cardinals matchups to watch Monday, 5:30 p.m. (ESPNCBS, Ch. 5), at University of Phoenix Stadium49ers CB Tarell Brown vs. Cardinals WR Larry FitzgeraldTale of the tape
Brown (25): 5-foot-10, 193 pounds, sixth season, Texas
Fitzgerald (11): 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, ninth season, PittsburghThe Arizona Cardinals do not feature a one-man offense.But, certainly, sometimes it seems that way. And the fact of the matter is the Cardinals' offense is geared around wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald."He's one of those guys that's a big part of that offense even when the ball's not being thrown to him because the defense is always aware of where he's going to be," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said."He draws a lot of attention from everybody they play. So even when other guys are catching the ball, he has an indirect effect on that. So he's a huge part of their offense, even if it's not getting thrown to him."Covering Fitzgerald is not a one-man chore, but 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown figures to be matched up on him more than anyone else Monday night."He's the X receiver, so I think I'll get him most of the game," Brown said.MAIOCCO's MATCHUP NO. 3: Iupati vs. Campbell
Brown plays solely on the right side. Carlos Rogers is the cornerback on the left side. When the opposition goes with three receivers, Rogers covers the slot, with Chris Culliver playing left cornerback. The Cardinals will be able to dictate which cornerback Fitzgerald faces.Brown is giving up 5 inches to Fitzgerald, who has 40 receptions for 459 yards and three touchdowns this season. Brown knows from experience Fitzgerald offers a unique challenge."He has great body control and he uses his hands well," Brown said. "He gets in and out of breaks, and he always competes for the ball, regardless of whether it's a well-thrown ball or an average-thrown ball."There are likely to be many average-thrown passes on Monday, as Cardinals quarterback John Skelton is a 55-percent passer who has thrown three interceptions on 74 attempts this season after taking over for injured Kevin Kolb.The 49ers own the No. 1-ranked pass defense in the NFL, which begins with a pass rush that forces opposing quarterbacks to get rid of the ball quickly. How the 49ers defend Fitzgerald should go a long way in determining who wins on Monday.The 49ers held Fitzgerald to three catches for 41 yards in a 23-7 victory over Arizona last November. Three weeks later, Fitzgerald caught seven passes for 149 yards as the Cardinals defeated the 49ers 21-19."We have to keep the deep balls off us and concentrate on our open-field tackling," Brown said.Free safety Dashon Goldson will also have a busy day, as he will often supply help against Fitzgerald over the top.
"No 1, when you think of the Cardinals you're going to think of Larry Fitzgerald, obviously. He's one of the top receivers in our league, if not the best receiver in the league," Fangio said. "(He's a future) Hall of Famer and justifiably so. He's a tough guy to handle. He's big. He's fast. He's strong. He's tough to tackle after he catches it. So, him in and of himself is a tough chore."