49ers-Redskins: Matchups to watch

November 5, 2011, 12:36 pm
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WASHINGTON -- Surely, opponents of the 49ers have emphasized containing running back Frank Gore for quite some time. But no team has gone public with their intent more than the Washington Redskins.The Redskins (3-4) believe they can beat the 49ers (6-1) on Sunday if they can regularly keep the 49ers in third-down passing situations. That means holding Gore to minimum yardage on first and second downs.Gore has taken off the past four games with 125-plus rushing yards in victories over Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Detroit and Cleveland. He said the success is a result of the 49ers players on offense banding together as one.And to stop Gore, the Redskins must rally to the ball in a collective team effort. But for the purposes of a Matchup to Watch, we'll keep it focused on the central figures of each unit:Tale of the tape
Gore (21): 5-9, 217, Miami (Fla.), seventh season
Fletcher (59): 5-10, 245, John Carroll, 14th season
London Fletcher leads the Redskins with 62 tackles. As the man in the middle of the Redskins' defense, he will get more chances to bring down Gore than any other Washington player.Gore ran the ball a career-high 31 times last week in the 49ers' 20-10 victory over the Browns. And he's likely to see a large share of the action again.Through seven games, the 49ers ran the ball 54.6 percent of the time on first downs and 54.9 percent on second downs.Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo was asked on 95.7 The Game to name the two most important things his team has to do to stop the 49ers."Two most important things I would have to say: No. 1 is Frank Gore, and No. 2 is Frank Gore. That's all we have to -- not all we have to do -- but their main thing is run, run, run the ball," Orakpo said.Said cornerback DeAngelo Hall, "That's something we're definitely going to have to do, stop the run. They've done a great job over the last couple of weeks, and we know that that's something they're going to try to do."Coach Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers' run game will face a stiff challenge in a game that he anticipates will be "old-fashion football.""These guys are strong, physical men that want to two-gap you and see how far up the field they can knock you back," Harbaugh said. "It's the kind of game that should get our guys' blood pumping. It's going to be a real test." Other matchups worth watching
49ers middle linebacker Patrick Willis (52) vs. Redskins tight end Fred Davis (83): Willis and fellow 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman have mostly been used in interchangeable roles this season. Except, Willis is the player the 49ers trust more in single coverage against good tight ends. Willis was matched man-to-man against Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew three weeks ago. And Fred Davis, who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury, is the Redskins' biggest offensive threat. Davis is the Redskins' leading receiver with 36 receptions for 517 yards and two touchdowns.49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) vs. Redskins safety LaRon Landry (30): Davis leads the 49ers in receptions (27) and receiving yards (292), and he is tied with fellow tight end Delanie Walker with three touchdown catches. But it's mostly been a quiet season by Davis' standards. As Davis returns home to the Washington area, he'd like to do something about that. The Redskins struggled against Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler a week ago, as Chandler caught touchdown passes of 15 and 20 yards. LaRon Landry will find himself crossing paths a lot with Davis, as he looks to take away the seam route that the 49ers will look to re-establish.

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