By Curt Macysyn
The New York Giants (3-6) are likely looking at a third consecutive season without a playoff berth. As if that scenario was not bad enough, the G-men have not been very competitive as of late, which is welcome news for the San Francisco 49ers (5-4). San Francisco has its playoff life hanging by a thread in the ultra-competitive NFC West, where they trail both the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers walked a tightrope against the New Orleans Saints last week, as they rallied to tie the game in the final minute. They weathered a potential game-winning touchdown, when Jimmy Graham was called for pass interference to reach the extra frame. San Francisco then recovered a Drew Brees fumble in overtime, which led to a 35-yard Phil Dawson field goal to win 27-24, and in the process keep their playoff hopes alive.
The San Francisco 49ers would be wise to simply use the same blue print that the Seattle Seahawks did to defeat the Giants on Sunday. In fact, from the perspective of the ground game, the 49ers have pretty much the same dynamics at works as the Seahawks did. Both teams have a workhorse tailback, this week the Giants will try and stop Frank Gore. Gore has been an under-appreciated star in the NFL in his ten years in the league. The veteran running back from the University of Miami has rushed for over 1,000 yards seven times in his career, and if he stays healthy for the remainder of the season, he could make it for an eighth time. After looking at game film, he is probably licking his chops at the prospect of facing a porous Giants’ run defense that gave up 350 yards on the ground to the Seahawks.
Running back Carlos Hyde spells Gore in the rushing attack, and he has 214 yards on the ground with three touchdowns. At 6-0, 235 lbs., Hyde is a load, and the Giants’ defense has not been exactly stout in it run stopping capabilities this year. With as poor as the G-men have been playing on defense, fullback Bruce Miller may be able to double the number of carries he has gotten this season (3).
The Giants could not stop Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on the ground, and Colin Kaepernick is a bigger, faster version of Wilson. Kaepernick has 298 rushing yards on the season with a healthy 5.1 yards per carry average. Through the air, Kaepernick completes about 62 percent of his passes, and he has 13 touchdown passes versus only five interceptions. His favorite target is wide receiver Anquan Boldin with 51 catches for 635 yards with three touchdowns.
Two other wide receivers, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson, have 40 and 31 catches on the season, and both have three touchdown catches. Tight end Vernon Davis has had a subpar season with only 17 catches and two touchdowns, but he can be a vertical threat in the passing attack. Oh, and by the way, the Giants are ranked dead last in the NFL in defense.
Perrish The Thought
The San Francisco 49ers have a balanced defense, and they are ranked second in total defense in the NFL, giving up 306.4 yards per game. Cornerback Perrish Cox leads the team with four interceptions, and the team ranks sixth in the league with 11 interceptions. Unbelievably, the Giants are second in the NFL with 13 interceptions.
Defensive leader Patrick Willis has missed the last three games with a sprained toe, leaving a void in the middle. Rookie linebacker Chris Borland (Wisconsin) has stepped in and has 35 tackles in the past two weeks. Borland was selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft, three selections after the Giants picked defensive tackle Jay Bromley.
Strong safety Antoine Bethea leads the team in tackles with 51 on the season. The veteran from Howard University has three interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks has four sacks, which leads the team. Overall, the 49ers have only 15.0 sacks on the season, which ranks 26th in the NFL.
Finally, the district attorney has declined to charge defensive tackle Ray McDonald in a domestic violence incident that occurred in the summer. The issue had been an issue for the team, given the scrutiny that the NFL has received due to the release of the Ray Rice elevator video.
The New York Giants lead the all-time series 19-18. The last time the 49ers came east was Oct. 19, 2008 when they lost to New York 29-17 at Giants Stadium. The game will be a homecoming for 49ers’ offensive tackle Anthony Davis, who grew up in Piscataway, N.J. and attended Rutgers University. Rookie Dontae Johnson was born in Pennington, N.J. and attended Pennington Prep. He played football at North Carolina State and recorded a touchdown on his first professional interception.
For more Giants news and updates, visit Giants Central.
Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.