Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Buccaneers matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Raymond James Stadium.
49ers FB Bruce Miller vs. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David
Tale of the tape
Miller (49): 6 foot 2, 248 pounds, third season, Central Florida
David (54): 6 foot 1, 233 pounds, second season, Nebraska
Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David has already made history. And, now, he’ll attempt to make misery for 49ers fullback Bruce Miller.
“I’ll probably be matched up against him in some way in every phase of the game,” Miller said on Thursday.
David, the Buccaneers’ leading tackler, is the first linebacker in NFL history to record six sacks and five interceptions in the same season.
The Buccaneers use a high volume of blitzes, and Miller will often find himself in a position to pick up David. Miller is the 49ers’ third-leading receiver with 21 receptions. He might find David picking him up out of the backfield. But, most important, Miller will likely come in contact with David as a lead-blocker for running back Frank Gore.
Miller has been keeping an eye on David for a good portion of the season, knowing that the Buccaneers would be on the 49ers’ schedule.
“I’d probably compare him to our guys with the way he plays sideline-to-sideline,” said Miller, referring to NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. “He has really good speed at that position. You don’t really see that kind of speed at linebacker except for with our guys.”
Certainly, Miller will not be solely responsible for keeping tabs on David, a second-round pick last season who has quickly emerged into one of the league’s stars. The 49ers’ offense must identify David before every play and know where he is at all times.
“You definitely have to be aware of where he is,” 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “He does a great job in the middle of the field. He’s very fast. He can cover a lot of ground quickly and he’s got great instincts and a great feel for the game.”