Like we've been doing this season, we reached out to the guys over at 49ers101.com in advance of the big matchup between NFC powerhouses. As the New York Giants roll west to face the San Francisco 49ers, let's hear what Mark Ortiz over at 49ers101.com has to say about this week's matchup.
We've seen our Giants start to get something going in the running game…but is going up against a unit like the 49ers front seven a lost cause?
In all the 49ers wins, the opponent has given up on the run. But in the loss to the Vikings, the Vikings continued to pound the ball on the ground. Their commitment to run opened up the entire offense. They had the 49ers linebackers biting on nearly every play action pass thanks to their commitment. The Giants should stick with the run, in the long run it will pay off. Maybe not the first quarter or first half, but they will see dividends later in the game.
That's probably music to the ears of Giants fans, who have been known to criticize Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride's commitment to the run, even when it's clearly not working. We'll see if we can remember this one if Ahmad Bradshaw is running into brick walls in the first half.
What's the Niners biggest weakness on defense?
They're soft in the secondary, because of the scheme they employ and the confidence (and sometimes over confidence) of the defensive backs. They more or less let their safeties sit back like center fielders to defend deep passes, while at least one of their linebackers rushes, leaving the entire middle of the field open on many occasions…if the Giants establish the run, and keep running the ball, it forces the Safeties to come and the receivers can find their holes in the secondary. The Giants have to force the 49ers secondary to continue to commit to short yardage passes and run defense.
We've talked several times this week about Martellus Bennett possibly being a big factor in this game and this only makes us think that more. Also, Victor Cruz is at his best finding space over the middle of the field.
We've been talking all week about doubling Vernon Davis? Yay or Nay?
Doubling Davis is always a smart thing, but we're just not sure if it is really a must. As of right now he is only being targeted 4-7 times per game. And most of those passes are in the range of 6-10 yards. He has become more or less Alex Smith's safety net; almost a bail out target. He is definitely a threat to run after the catch, but at that short of a distance he should have to break some tackles to extend a run. The Giants should most certainly double him in the red zone though.
Maybe the Giants are better off bringing a safety up in the box rather than worrying about smothering Davis or Crabtree Of course, after last year's NFC Championship game, maybe not.
Who are some other under-the-radar players we might need to know about?
We would definitely put Colin Kaepernick in there. He is only likely to step in a few times, but he seems to record big plays or touchdowns, then head back to the bench. Let's also throw Mario Manningham in there too. He doesn't record a lot of catches, but the touches he does get are usually pretty significant. A lot of them are reverses for him too as he appears to be the 49ers trick play guy.
Manningham won't come in under the radar for the fans around here, but we saw him in the playoffs show an ability to get behind the defense and make big plays when people focus on his fellow offensive playmakers. But we're far more concerned with Kaepernick, whose mobility is the kind that's given the Giants defensive line fits this year.
San Francisco wins if…
They run the ball hard and often, exposing the linebackers and secondary to pass plays and convert on third down plays at a higher efficiency than they've been. They also have to control the Giants running attack, and let Manning start throwing more. The more he throws the more the 49ers defensive backs play centerfield on him.
We agree with Mark that the 49ers first and foremost need to establish and stay true to their ground game. But we've learned not to be upset if Manning has to start winging it, just hoping that the offensive line gives him a chance to hang in there and wing it around.
Big game tomorrow.
photo credit: Peter McCarthy via photopin cc
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