49ers key matchup No. 1: Davis vs. Wake

49ers key matchup No. 1: Davis vs. Wake
December 9, 2012, 9:30 am
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This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Dolphins matchups to watch Sunday, 1 p.m. (CBS), at Candlestick Park.

49ers RT Anthony Davis vs. Dolphins DE Cameron Wake

Tale of the tape
Davis (76): 6-foot-5, 323 pounds, third season, Rutgers
Wake (91): 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, fourth season, Penn State

The St. Louis Rams last week were successful putting pressure on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and keeping him in the pocket.

The Rams devised a blueprint for the Miami Dolphins, and the rest of the teams on the 49ers' schedule, to follow: Keep Kaepernick contained and don't allow him the time to throw down the field.

It's a strategy Kaepernick expects to see until he and the 49ers' offense prove they can defeat it.

"Yeah, defenses are always going to try to scheme to stop you and do what they think is best," Kaepernick said. "That's something we're doing on offense, trying to scheme them up as well."

The Dolphins have a strong defensive front seven that is fully capable of pressuring Kaepernick while also making things difficult on 49ers running back Frank Gore to operate.

Kaepernick offers a unique challenge because of his ability to gain huge chunks of yards with his long strides, too. His 50-yard run late in the fourth quarter against the Rams was the longest run for a 49ers quarterback in club history. Steve Young had a famous 49-yard touchdown run, stumbling across the goal line, against the Minnesota Vikings in 1988.

Miami's best player is defensive end Cameron Wake, who has 10.5 sacks on the season. He is ranked as the top 4-3 defensive end in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus' rating system. Wake knows he must never lose track of Kaepernick.

"I'm always the spy," Wake said on a conference call with reporters who cover the 49ers. "Every play I'm the spy. That's my job title. Wherever the quarterback is, you've got to get there."

Although the Dolphins list Wake as the team's right defensive end, he actually has seen most of his action this season on the left side. That means he'll be matched mostly against 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis.

Davis is coming off one of his better games of the season, as he neutralized Rams defensive end Chris Long in the 49ers' 16-13 overtime loss last week. Wake will be one of Davis' more difficult challenges of the season.

But, oddly, Wake's biggest test might come on plays in which he is not even blocked.

The 49ers are expected to activate rookie running back LaMichael James to work the zone read running plays with Kaepernick, whose job it is to decide whether to hand off to James of keep it himself. Kaepernick will read the defensive end to make that decision.

"There are plays that certain teams have schemed up to read the end to make sure he's wrong," Wake said. "If he's down the line, obviously, you're going to keep the ball and run around the edge. If you have a quarterback who can do something like that, that's going to hurt your defense. At the same time, if you're a defensive end and you're waiting on it, they hand the ball off and the running back is up inside and he's still running."

Wake said there will be times when he'll fake one action in hopes of tricking the quarterback into making the wrong read.

"That's the game inside the game," Wake said.