The Giants have appropriately moved on from the celebratory high of beating the Patriots and are now solely focused on preparing for the 49ers. The 49ers are polar opposites of the Patriots, as they have one of the league’s best defenses and love to lean on their running game.
This game will be the definition of smash-mouth football. It will be a war won in the trenches.
So, without further ado, let’s look at five things to watch for.
Can Giants get anything going on the ground?
It does not look good. To say the 49ers are staunch against the run would be a gross understatement. The 49ers easily rank first against the rush, allowing just 70.8 yards per game, and they have a streak going of 30 straight games of not allowing a 100-yard rusher. Brandon Jacobs had a fine day last week against the Patriots, but he’ll be hard pressed to find running room this week. Expect the Giants to open the passing game, giving Eli Manning free reign to make plays.
Can Giants contain 49ers running attack?
The Giants have been exposed in the running game this year, no way around that. Every opponent, perhaps outside of the Patriots, has tried to exploit this. The Giants rank 24th against the run, allowing 127.1 yards per game. 49ers running back Frank Gore is one of the league’s hardest runners and can easily find open lanes. Gore is fourth in the league in rushing (87.8 YPG) and the Giants will have a tough time matching up with him.
Can the Giants make Alex Smith try to beat them with his arm?
This has to be the game plan. The Giants should stack the box against Gore and have Smith beat them with his arm, as he has shown nothing more than being a game manager. Smith has only two interceptions and has been taught to be a smart, cerebral quarterback instead of forcing the issue. Besides, he hardly has any reliable options as Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards have been far from consistent-or healthy. So, expect the Giants to dare Smith to beat then with his arm. If they can, then the chances for the Giants to win increases exponentially.
The Giants have said all the right things in preparation for this week’s matchup with the 49ers. But, back-to-back highly competitive road victories will be difficult to attain with last week being so emotionally draining. Now the Giants have to travel to the west coast and try to knock off the 49ers. No one said this part of the schedule would be easy. Once again, the mettle of this team will be tested.
Pass rush will once again define game
Last week against New England, the Giants effectively got to Tom Brady and rattled his cage. As stated prior, the Giants have to get Smith to make plays with his arm so the front four can apply some pressure on him. The Giants have been phenomenal of late of pressuring quarterbacks and getting them to make mistakes. If they can get to Smith, who has hardly made any mistakes this year, than the Giants have a chance to pull off the victory.
Follow me on Twitter @stacdemon