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Niners-Packers matchup of the day: Saturday

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

Here’s a look at a key matchup heading into the Week 13 game between the Packers and Niners at Lambeau Field.

Niners TEs Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker vs. Packers SS Charlie Peprah

It will be important for the Packers’ pass defense to pay close attention to both of the Niners’ extremely fast and athletic tight ends and not just Davis, who remains San Francisco’s key receiving weapon after having a Pro Bowl season for the ages last year. Included in Davis’ ’09 season was a very strong effort in the Packers’ 30-24 victory over San Francisco in Week 11 — 108 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Davis has not been nearly as dominant this season but is still the Niners’ leading receiver with 40 catches for 548 yards (13.7 ypc) and four TDs. He has been bothered by an ankle injury for a while now and has been used more as a blocker in max-protection schemes, which has reduced his receiving opportunities.

Walker, meanwhile, has become much more of a factor in the  Niners’ offense under new coordinator Mike Johnson and is having the best season of his five-year career (19-257-0 with 13.5 yards per catch).

The physical Peprah has been much better as a run defender than in coverage this season. The Packers had a rather difficult time last week handling Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez (6-51-1), and with fellow safeties Atari Bigby (hamstring) and Anthony Smith (ankle) doubtful for the Niners game, the likelihood has increased that both CB Charles Woodson and FS Nick Collins may have to pitch in more than a little in terms of handling the Davis-Walker duo on Sunday.

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