In order for the Giants to avoid a 3-7 start, which would be their worst after 10 games in 31 years, they will have to stop the run. The 49ers are the ninth-best rushing team in the league.
RB Frank Gore, the Niners' all-time leading rusher, has rushed for just 188 yards on 62 carries over the last four games but against the Giants' poor rush defense we may see a steady diet of him this Sunday.
The 49ers (5-4) are undefeated this season when Gore carries the ball 15 or more times. In their four losses, Gore had 13, 6, 9 and 14 carries respectively. He has been battling a hip issue but appears ready to attack the Giants' soft front seven.
Giants' DC Perry Fewell knows the 49ers have a powerful offense even if the numbers aren't up to snuff this year. They are only averaging 21.7 points per game thus far this season.
"This is a very diverse offense," said Fewell. "They have a great power running game. You guys know Frank Gore is a strong down-hill runner. They have many personalities. They can also run the read-option. They have an outside-toss sweep game. We divided our time up. Like I said, we took a different approach in how we prepare for each segment of their run game this week."
What will make Gore more dangerous is that the Giants will have to contain QB Colin Kaepernick, a larger, more physical version of the Seahawks' Russell Wilson, who ran wild on the Giants last Sunday using read-option tactics.
"We tried to change our approach this week in how we taught it," Fewell said of preparing for the read-option. "Then we also we worked hard and put a lot of energy and effort into making sure that we explained exactly what the assignments were and we also walked through the different assignments and we’ve just continuously, mentally and physically and verbally, gone through option-football assignments."
Kaepernick is second to Wilson is rushing among QBs, averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season. He's tucked it under and run 58 times for 298 yards.
The Giants will be without their top tackler, LB Jacquian Williams, who suffered a concussion during the loss in Seattle. Fewell was asked how he plans to compensate for the loss:
"Mark Herzlich will play. Spencer Paysinger will play. We’ll use, in the sub-package, that’s how we’ll use that and then Devon Kennard. We’ll use him also in the sub-package...We’ll use a number of those three players"
The Giants defense is ranked last in the league. Fewell spoke about blocking out the criticism he and his unit have received this week.
"Really, the thing I’m more concerned with is the New York Giants and our players, so the outside criticism and what have you, I kind of block that out because my concern is with improving the New York Giants. We all want the same thing. We want to win, we want to be the best we can possibly be and we’re going to put energy and effort into doing that. So we have seven games. We’re at the 32nd spot right now. We have seven games to crawl out of that spot. We’ll crawl out."
And how does he plan on doing that?
"We’re competitors, man. You play the game to win," he said. "You play the game because you love the game. You play the game to compete. We’re going to come and we’re going to compete and we’re going to get us a victory on Sunday."