The Giants travel West this week to take on the surprising 7-1 San Francisco 49ers. This was always a great rivalry and it will be fun to see these teams compete again on a somewhat equal level.
Offense: The 9ers are a pure running team. They find all sorts of ways to get Frank Gore in good positions. Their two running backs have a total of 999 yards on the ground so far this year. They have a young and talented offensive line whose athleticism has proved to be it’s strength. In my opinion Alex Smith, the QB, is still not ready to win at this level. He has been kept under wraps, been given safe throws to make, and has not been asked to win a game without his running attack. He has thrown for less that 1500 yards this season with a completion percentage of 64% and has been sacked 19 times. The San Francisco team has some talent to catch the ball in Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Tedd Ginn Jr. however Smith’ accuracy on anything too far down the field is still a problem. The 9ers will throw to backs, TE’s, and even some offensive tackles, in order to keep the opponent guessing, and to provide Smith with quick short throws.
Defense: Ranked number 1 against the rush, and first in points allowed with just 14. They haven’t played many good scoring teams, and therefore that rank might be a little optimistic. They are an impressive +12 in turnover ratio and have 22 sacks. They are a strong 3-4 defensive team against the run, but rank 30th against the pass.
Specials: Here comes another explosive special teams layer in Tedd Ginn Jr. He has kickoff and punt returns for T.D’s, and can ruin any game in a hurry. They have ex-Eagles kicker David Akers who is 19 of 21 with a long of 55. With Alex Smith being a liability the 9ers don’t hesitate to call on Akers to put points on the board.
The call here for the Giants is simple. Make Alex Smith beat you. While looking out for play action passes the Giants will face their toughest task to date stopping the run. The 9ers run the ball an average of 30 times a game while averaging 59 plays a game. Look for the Giants to stack the box, play the three safeties a lot, and do whatever they can to force San Francisco into third and long.
As of this writing it looks like the Giants will be without Ahmad Bradshaw again this week, but Hakeem Nicks seems on track to go.