Thursday, October 3, 2013

49ers vs Texans - Vernon Davis could be key

Vernon Davis is a key to the 49ers offense every week, that's no surprise.  After watching film of the Texans first four games, Davis might be even more important than usual.  Let me explain.

The Texans play a base 3-4 defense, and what jumped out to me right away was how they handled various formations, particularly when teams use twin wide receivers opposite the TE.  When teams have done this to the Texans, they responded by sending both corners to the two WR side.  This leaves the TE one on one with safety Danieal Manning.

Although Manning has a pass coverage grade of +1.6 according to Pro Football Focus, this is a matchup that Davis should win.

Taking that same formation one step further creates another potentially positive situation for the 49ers.  When teams go into the twin formation mentioned above, and flex the TE out wide as a receiver the Texans adjust by flexing the outside linebacker out wide into.  They often will help the outside linebacker out over the top with the safety, but this should create an opening for the off tackle running game of the 49ers.

Look for the 49ers to utilize a number of formations early on to identify how Houston wants to adjust.

Another matchup that should favor Davis occurs when the Texans go into their sub package.  Unlike the 49ers who generally go from their base 3-4 to the Nickle in passing downs, the Texans will primarily sub into the Dime on passing downs.  When the Texans go into their Dime group, Davis will find himself lined up against either Manning or rookie safety DJ Swearinger.

Swearinger comes into Sunday night with a pass coverage grade of -2.4 from PFF.  If the Texans decide they want to matchup Swearinger on Davis, the 49ers need to make them pay.

Look for Davis to be very active on Sunday night.

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