The New York Giants and San Francisco 49rs had the best rivalry in football throughout the 80’s and early 90’s. But like all good things, it did finally come to an end in the late 90’s. Although these teams have faced each other in the playoffs since then, it was not the same kind of intensity that Giants and Niners fans had become accustomed to. Well that all came to an end last year.
The Giants traveled to San Francisco twice last season. Once during the regular season, in a 20-27 loss, and then again in the NFC Championship game, which New York won 20-17. The 49rs will be looking for revenge today and they will be prepared to do anything to ensure a victory. The Giants will need to put their best effort on the field today if they want a chance of winning.
Keys to the Game: The Giants must be prepared for anything. Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49rs are willing to call any play at any time. Their playcalling is very unique, especially when you consider the Giants Plain Jane play calling scheme. New York’s defense has been lousy through the first five games and if they do not change that today, they will get torched.
Stop the run. The Giants defense were dominated the last two weeks by Lesean McCoy and Trent Richardson. During the NFC Championship game last year Alex Smith only completed one pass to a wide receiver. The Giants must force Smith to pass the ball and the only way that happens is if the Giants can slow down Frank Gore.
The offensive line must protect Eli Manning. During the NFC Championship game last season, Manning was sacked six times and hit a dozen more. And he was just not hit, he was crushed. The unfortunate part about it, was that on more than a couple of those plays. Manning had guys open down field, but was unable to get them the ball because of pressure.
David Wilson needs to have a big kick return. Wilson has been so close to breaking a very long kick return. He has had many good returns, but he still needs to break through with that game breaking one. Wilson could change the whole dynamic of a game with one of those returns.
Injuries: The Giants will be without running back Andre Brown, safety Kenny Phillips, and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. On the bright side, Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl and Corey Webster are listed as questionable, but I would expect all three of them to play.
For the San Francisco 49rs former New York Giant, Brandon Jacobs is listed as questionable. Now there is no doubt in mind he will play and will probably receive a couple of handoffs.
Final Analysis: With the Giants getting back to full strength, they have as good an opportunity as any to knock off the Niners in San Francisco. The Giants cannot afford any turnovers, just like the NFC Championship game. The winner of the turnover battle will win this game. San Francisco 24 New York 17.