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Which Jet Will Have Trouble Against Alex Smith: McKnight, Wilson or Cromartie?

Antonio Cromartie believes he's now the best in the game.
Antonio Cromartie believes he's now the best in the game.Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Tony SarnoffContributor IISeptember 30, 2012

Of course, the San Francisco 49ers should win Sunday against the New York Jets, just as they should have won last weekend, when you couldn’t find a naysayer in the house, maybe Artie Lange excepted. 

Look at the stats that portray 49er dominance and Jets submission: the enormous difference in rushing, for example. Using Profootballfocus (PFF) numbers: 49ers are third in the league; Jets, 29th. In pass-blocking: 49ers, first;  Jets, 27th.   

On defense, the 49ers have the second-best run defense; the Jets are ninth. Interestingly, both teams are far down the leaderboard for pass-rushing. Only in the category of pass coverage are the Jets rated higher.

Which brings up the matter of Darrell Revis’s replacements: Joe McKnight, heretofore an emergency corner and best known to Jets fans for a 107-yard kickoff return against the Ravens one year ago. Once touted as 'he next Reggie Bush," McKnight has been a dimmer star and one wonders how he will keep up with Vernon Davis, Randy Moss or Michael Crabtree.

The other replacement is Kyle Wilson, a Boise State star originally thought to be the third corner behind Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Aside from not answering questions about the upcoming game earlier this week, Wilson is an unknown quantity.

And then there’s Cromartie himself, who has the opposite attraction with the press. He had this conversation with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, in which he insisted that only Revis was a better corner.

You’re saying you’re the second-best corner in the NFL?
“Yup.”
Really?
“Yup.”
You believe that?
“Yup.”
You’re better than Nnamdi (Asomugha)?
“Yup.”
Were you better than Nnamdi two years ago?
“Yup.”

Cromartie keeps quarterback ratings to 69.6 percent when throwing against him.

What does this mean for Alex Smith, who after three weeks has the second-highest quarterback rating after Matt Ryan? Mark Sanchez is 26th. 

For those who worry that Smith is slipping into old patterns—a bar graph of his first three games shows a gentle but clear downward slope, and historically his fourth game of the season is always lackluster or poor—I’m guessing that he will re-establish himself.  

Still, it’s an interesting test for him and his team.

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