The New England Patriots are gearing up to face the best team in the NFC in the San Francisco 49ers tomorrow night, and here’s a look at some players on offense that the Patriots defense will need to account for.
1. QB Colin Kaepernick
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a quarterback duo as good as this one since Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady and Drew Bledsode, because Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith are two good starting quarterbacks in this league. Kaepernick brings something different to the table than Smith that is especially threatening to the Patriots, because the Pats secondary can still get burned. The secondary is much better than it was earlier this year and is no longer a weakness, but Kaepernick has upside in this matchup with his deep throw. The Patriots three best corners are all nicked up after the game against the Houston Texans, with all three of them currently listed questionable.
Kaep has completed 67.4% of his passes this season, so he is definitely a QB with a high amount of accuracy in his own right.
2. LT Joe Staley
I don’t have too much to say about Staley, other than this 2012 season has seen Staley re-emerge as one of the best tackles in the game. He had a rough year or two in which he was overrated by several people, but the 49ers LT has found his form again and has been the best tackle in the NFC this season.
3. Frank Gore
Gore is putting together another terrific season, and he is averaging nearly five yards per carry. He put together another strong game last week and currently has over 1,000 rushing yards on the season. He’s still one of the best running backs in the game and has eight combined rushing and receiving touchdowns on the year. The Patriots defense is susceptible to running backs with Gore’s skill-set. He’s like Fred Jackson and Ray Rice, because he is great in all three facets of the game (rushing, receiving, and blocking) and has plenty of speed.
4. RB LaMichael James
Speaking of speed, how about LaMichael James? He showed a ton of it last week and has finally received a significant role in the offense due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. The Oregon Ducks speed demon was one of the best running backs in college football history from a numbers perspective, and it will be interesting to see how many touches the 49ers give him against New England. He could even break off a big gain against NE, and I’ll be keeping an eye on him.
5. TE Vernon Davis
The New England Patriots don’t exactly have the best linebackers in coverage, and I feel like Vernon Davis will eat up Brandon Spikes (even if he has improved in coverage) if given the opportunity. I hope the Pats put rookie Tavon Wilson on the top TE, because Davis is off to another solid season. He’s averaging 9.2 yards per target and has caught nearly 70% of all passes thrown his way. Davis and Michael Crabtree have been huge factors for the 49ers all season long in the passing game, but Davis has the most favorable matchup of the two.
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