It’s going to take a group effort to limit the production of New England Patriots slot receiver Wes Welker.
At least that’s the assessment of Carlos Rogers, San Francisco’s starting cornerback, who will line up in the nickel package this Sunday night against one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL.
Welker, New England’s shifty slot playmaker, ranks ninth in receiving yards (1,116), fourth in targets (142) and third in receptions (95).
He also needs five catches to become the first player in league history with five, 100-catch seasons.
It’s a challenge that San Francisco’s Pro Bowl defensive back is ready to face.
“He runs a lot of option routes,” said the 49ers starting corner when asked about Welker’s best talents. “Those quick guys like that, especially when you face a good quarterback, it’s going to take a lot, not just me sticking him, but Dashon (Goldson) coming down inside, some of the D-ends hitting those guys.”
It’ll be a group effort to limit the production of Welker and tight end, turned slot wideout, Aaron Hernandez. It also extends to the 49ers offense.
Points are at a premium, but the same can be said for time of possession. Rogers believes the longer San Francisco’s offense can sustain drives, the better the 49ers match up against New England and MVP candidate Tom Brady.
“Tom makes this offense go,” Roger said point-blank.
“Brady’s going to make plays, his offense is going to make plays,” Rogers went on to say. “Our defense is going to make plays; we just want to make more than him at the end of the game.”
It sounds rather basic, but it’s quite true. Both teams reached their respective conference championships last year and have just three losses each through 14 weeks in 2012.
Come Week 15, both sides expect to be in for a 60-minute contest.
Furthermore, Rogers and his teammates are looking at it like a playoff-like contest. Not only is it a road game in a cold environment on a national stage, but a victory will cement San Francisco’s postseason bid.
Win, and the 49ers are in the playoffs.
With a second consecutive postseason appearance on the line, the 49ers are treating the remaining games with the utmost focus.
“You’ve got to take these last four games with that mindset,” Rogers shared. “It is seeding for the playoffs. We’ve got guys right on our back if we lose, so it would make next week that much bigger.”
Those “guys” are the 8-5 Seattle Seahawks who are one of two NFC West clubs to defeat the Patriots this season, along with the Arizona Cardinals.
Rogers and the 49ers aim to be the third NFC West opponent to defeat New England and first to do it in the month of December where the Patriots have won 20 consecutive home games in the final month of the regular season.
“If you take care of business right now,” Rogers said, “it’ll make your path easier going into the playoffs.”
That’s why Rogers is taking advantage of everything in sight. The veteran cornerback is picking the brain of Donte Whitner, a longtime rival of Brady and the Patriots from his days in the AFC East.
Rogers is also seeking the wisdom of former Patriots wideout Randy Moss, the very same player who recorded 50 touchdown receptions in 52 games for New England from 2007-10.
“He knows Brady’s checks,” Rogers said of Moss. “He knows where the ball is going.”
Moss will be a welcomed party-crasher in this week’s defensive back meetings. The former Patriots wideout will surely be a help, but as Rogers pointed out, it’ll take in-game execution to limit the high-powered opponent.
When it comes to defending the slot, Rogers is ready for the challenge of defending Welker, Hernandez and New England’s numerous option routes.
“When you have a lot of options routes, whatever leverage you show, they’re going to run opposites,” Rogers detailed. “It’s going to take a lot of pressure, Aldon (Smith) and those guys getting to Brady to mix up their looks –get him off his spot so he’s not back there picking us apart.”
In Rogers’ mind, it’ll take “The Team, The Team, The Team,” to beat the Patriots Sunday night.
Tags: Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner, Randy Moss
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