Carlos Rogers spent the first five years of his career where he was drafted, with the Washington Redskins. In that time, he got a lot of time covering the Dallas Cowboys receivers, which until this past year or two, haven't been all-that special. He performed exceedingly well when put up against Terrell Owens on more than one occasion, but how familiar is he with Miles Austin, Dallas' number one receiver?
Not as familiar as you might think.
The Redskins ran an awful lot of zone coverage when they played Dallas - so much so that Rogers wasn't even pulled in to cover Austin during a game last year in which Austin was targeted eleven times ... and caught the ball every time. Rogers was either occupying another receiver or handling a zone that didn't include Austin. Rogers was a corner that played a lot of zone because the Washington coaching staff knew he was streaky if he started to give up plays in man-to-man coverage, meaning that he was likely to give up more of them each time. Call it a lack of confidence.
Either way, Rogers has always been an above-average-to-great cover corner, he just never has the interception numbers that people are hoping for. The 49ers are likely to use him in a much bigger man-to-man role on Sunday, which means he'll likely see a lot of Austin. He does, of course, have a lot to rely on in regards to his knowledge of Austin, having practiced to play him several times but again, he doesn't have as much man-to-man coverage on him as you might have thought.
He'll likely see a lot more of him on Sunday for a couple reasons. First, Austin switches to the slot receiver role when the Cowboys spread it out or go three-wide, and Rogers moves to the slot cover corner position in Vic Fangio's nickel package. That means so long as the Cowboys trot out three receivers, then Rogers will be on Austin.
Secondly, the 49ers will likely play a lot of man-to-man because they'll be blitzing. Or at least, that's how this writer feels ... you've got a quarterback in Tony Romo who can be streaky at his worst, coming off a performance against the Jets in which he lost the game for his team. Romo is a guy that, at least by conventional wisdom's standards, Vic Fangio will want to send the blitz after an awful lot. Hit him and get in his face, force him to make mistakes and don't let him get into a rhythm.
So no ... Carlos Rogers is not all-that familiar with Miles Austin, but if the 49ers can get to Tony Romo, it really doesn't matter who the receivers are.