Written by: Tony “The Prophet” Yantosca
This is not your father’s 49ers vs the Giants classic rivalry game. This matchup does not harken to the classic matchups from 1981 to 2011. In fact, the 41-game rivalry is dead even. The Giants have the lead 21 to 20 wins for the 49’ers. The point differential for the series is 5 points. The Giants have outscored San Francisco 543 to 538.
I have never seen one team that has been so beat up more in the 101-year history of the NFL than the 49ers. Here is the MASH list for the 49ers: Garoppolo. QB, QB Out, Mostert, RB Out, Coleman, RB, Out, Kittle, best TE in NFL, Out, Sherman, CB, IR, Ford, DE, Out, Solomon, DE, Out, Bosa, DE, IR, Hurd, WR, IR, Samuel, WR, IR, Greenlaw, and LB, Out. We are talking 11 players and 6 Pro Bowlers who are out.
I’ll give you the real skinny on the turf problems at Met Life stadium. The turf was checked this week and it was fine. It’s a new turf and it may not be broken in. The big issue is that with Covid the teams do not get a walk through on Saturday to see what size cleats the team will use on Sunday. The 49ers had the wrong length cleats in the game. They should adjust for the second trip to Met Life in as many weeks and be ready this week.
The Giants have their own injury problems. Their best player, Barkley is out for the year. Sheppard is also on IR. He missed 5 games in 2017 and missed 6 games last year. He is destined to miss 3 games this year which is the new IR minimum. McKinney, S, is out for the year and Mayo, LB is also on IR.
The 49ers are only playing with players that make up 40% of their salary cap. However, they are still a 3.5-point favorite over the Gmen. That is a major indictment on the Giants. The 49ers are going to battle with the rest of those standing. You know that Shanahan will be cooking up some new looks tom throw against the Giants this week.
When the 49ers have the ball, they will want to run the ball to set up play action in the pass game and take some strategic shots. The Giants defense is 24th vs the run giving up 138 yards a game. The $16.1 Million Dollar Man, Leonard Williams is supposed to clog the middle but not so much so far. The Williams, “Dollar per Sack Meter” still stands at 1 for $16.1M per sack. I will be tracking him all year.
Conversely, the 49ers are the number one rushing team in the NFL with 153 yards/game. The Giants need to stop the run to win period. Overall, the Giants defense has played well, considering no preseason. They have 6 sacks, one from 6 different defenders.
The 49ers want to run the ball, play good defense and minimize what Mullens has to do to win. Jeff Wilson will probably get the early down work. He only had 95 carries in 2018 and 2019. He is best known as a touchdown vulture with 4 TD’s on 6 goal line carries in his career. McKinnon gets moved up to 3rd down RB role. He missed the past 2 years but in 2 games on 9 touches he has 121 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is a veteran who can do some damage. I can see him being used together with McKinnon and at times on the early downs too.
Mullens has a lackluster resume. In his 8 games he is 3-5, but has a decent YPA at 8.3. He has 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. They have a menagerie of receivers. None of them are a real number 1, X receiver. However, between Aiyuk, Bourne, Taylor, Pettis and Sanu, they will generate some passing yards. In the Giants secondary, Bradberry has been stellar. He had a great interception and 4 other passes defended last week. The other cornerback side has been vulnerable so far.
The most incredible, unimaginable X-Factor for this game is Jordan Reed! He is the Lazarus Award winner for 2020! He’s back from the dead folks. I’ll be the first to admit I thought his career was over. He has missed 47 games in his 8-year career. That’s 3 full seasons and he did not play all of 2019 due to injury. As I have often said, he was “Born on IR”. He’s back and will be the number 1 red zone passing threat. He has 9 catches on 10 targets and 2 touchdowns so far.
When the Giants have the ball, they will want to establish the new look running game. They will be looking to launch Devonta Freeman. Don’t think that he is the Messiah. It will take him a while to get going because he has only been with the team for 5 days. There is a reason he was siting at home on the couchthrough week 2. His last big year was 2016. He had an OK year in 2017. He missed 14 games in 2018, and only had 3.6 yards per carry last year.
Dion Lewis is just a 3rd down passing back. When he was thrust into the starting role last week, he had only 20 yards on 10 attempts, 2 YPA. In the passing game. He had 4 catches on 5 targets for 36 yards. On the only touchdown in the game he was initially stopped at the goal line and then scored. He is not a power back. Wayne Gallman was inactive last week will have that role. He could be the leading rusher. His career was nondescript to this point but he was one of the best players in the preseason scrimmages with multiple touchdowns. He should be the lead back until Freeman can learn the playbook and knock off the rust.
The game will come down to the arm of Daniel Jones. With 27 turnovers in 14 games, there is no reason to think he will not have his obligatory 2 turnovers on Sunday. He was over drafted and we should be seeing much more for someone drafted at 6 overall. I am not the only one thinking this. Colin Cowherd on his national radio show simulcasted on TV on Fox Sports, said that the Giants should draft Lawrence, Fields or Lance depending what their draft spot is. He thinks the Giants, Jets and Lions are the worst 3 NFL teams this year. I don’t disagree withhim especially when you can get a real franchise quarterback for the next 10-15 years. Colin said of Jones, I’ve seen glimpses of competence and glimpses of he’s better than I thought, but I have seen no glimpses of great!” I disagree with Giants Nation who think they have the next Dan Marino. Ask yourself this, the NFL has had the greatest offensive explosion over the first 2 weeks of the season. It has been the most points scored in NFL history. Bucking the trend, the Giants have 29 points scored, 14.5 a week!
With Shepard out, Slayton becomes the key passing target. The 49ers are great vs the tight end. They have only allowed 3 catches for 26 yards and 0 touchdowns to opposing TE’s. With Engram struggling, he may be in the witness protection program again for this game. He was bad last week catching 2 of 9 targets. It will come down to Slayton to make the big plays this week. Tate will be in the slot. Even with being decimated, the 49ers still have Fred Warner, Arik Armstead and rookie Javon Kinlaw who all can get after Jones.
With 10 starters out for the 49ers, why are the Giants still a 3.5-point underdog? Even with all that talent gone, the 49ers are favored to win. I think the injuries equalize the game. When the schedule came out in April, the 3 games where the Giants had 0% chance to win were the Steelers, 49ers or Ravens. They have a strong chance to win this game. The more I analyze it, I am calling this a close 49ers win. The Giants will cover the 3.5 points. I am calling this, 49ers 21 and the Giants 19. They will find a way to lose the game. The 49ers can control the time of possession and play not to lose the game. If this happens they play a rejuvenated Rams team next week. The Judge Era may be 0-4. They need to find a way to win this week.