On Saturday, there will be plenty of matchups to pay specific attention to for the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. NaVorro Bowman and the rest of the defense is going to try and contain Marshawn Lynch to become one of the NFL's best-ever rushing defenses, while Aldon Smith is trying to further his bid for defensive rookie of the year. But perhaps the most important matchup on Saturday is right tackle Anthony Davis, and his battle against the crowd noise in Seattle.
Yeah, and also Chris Clemons. Don't forget about that guy.
Seattle boasts the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL (unofficially), and offenses average two false-start penalties a game there. The 49ers have struggled there in the past and even when the Seahawks aren't good (one could argue that this is one of those seasons, though they've turned it up in recent weeks), teams still regard road trips to Seattle as a tough game on their schedule.
On top of that, Clemons leads the Seahawks in sacks, with 11, and could be a deadly combination along with the crowd noise. Davis has a tendency to get beat badly when he does get beat, falling behind in games and not recovering, which could be a product of his age. Clemons is exactly the kind of guy who would take advantage of a potential slumping Davis to beat the 49ers for multiple sacks on Saturday.
Davis is still a very young tackle, but he's received much of 49ers fans' ire when it comes to mistakes - mental and physical. After being abused to start the season by, notably, Jason Babin, he's recovered well over the last couple games. He also struggled against Terrell Suggs in Baltimore and didn't have an easy time with Chris Long in St. Louis, but has rallied back with strong outings against Pittsburgh and Arizona. In fact, he was potentially the best tackle on the field against the Steelers on Monday night.
We'll see on Saturday if Davis is ready for this test. It's a pivotal point in his career, what with Alex Boone getting a recent extension. It's just his second year in the NFL, so it's not likely that Davis is going to be replaced if he does poorly in this game, but with this level of crowd noise, it will be one where special attention is paid to how he holds up.