After breaking down the 49ers at the halfway point of the season, we now get ready for the game before the much-needed bye week. Now, after playing a hard fought, but injury-riddled game against the Cardinals, the 49ers play their second straight home game as they complete their season series against the NFC East with a Sunday afternoon matchup against the New York Giants. Our coverage continues as we preview the week #10 match, and the last game before the team gets a much-needed bye week during week 11. We will break down the key offensive and defensive matchups.
With another week highlighted by a plethora of roster moves, this time the team is not rebuilding for the future; rather, it is replacing injured players at key positions on both sides of the ball. This week, the team added TE Cole Hikutini and S Jaquiski Tartt to the Injured Reserve List and, as such, needed to add enough players to field a 46-Man roster.
Patchwork Offensive Line vs. Giants Front Seven
During last week’s contest we saw what may be the makings of a shift in the leadership of the offensive line. Rookie Eric Magnuson got the first start of his NFL career at right tackle. The team’s regular right tackle, Trent Brown, who was ruled out of the previous week’s game while in concussion protocol, returned to the team but replaced Joe Staley at left tackle. He did well, by the way. Also injured last week was center Daniel Kilgore and left guard Brandon Fusco. Both are not listed as out, and are expected to play. The Giant’s Front Seven employs the 4-3 system. The defensive tackles are led by Damon Harrison and rookie Dalvin Tomlinson. The ends are highlighted by the always dangerous Jason Pierre-Paul and his similarly explosive counterpart Olivier Vernon, who will give a test to whatever side he is lined up on. The linebackers are led by second-year man B.J. Goodson, who will be flanked by Devon Kennard and Johnathan Casillas.
C.J. Beathard vs. Darian Thompson
C.J. Beathard fought hard and showed his trademark toughness while being hit relentlessly again last week. He was hit 16 times and sacked another five times. With another week to settle in for this offensive line we should see Beathard finding more security in the pocket. Showing a willingness to throw deep last week, if Beathard can find room deep on Thompson, that will go a long way to getting the team and Beathard their first wins. Darian Thompson had his best game of this season against the Los Angeles Chargers when he recorded 11 total tackles and the lone interception of his career.
49ers WRs & TEs vs. Giant’s Secondary
Pierre Garcon leads the team with 40 receptions but is now on Injured Reserve. Marquise Goodwin will be asked to be the go-to receiver; one would hope in his new role he can cure the Drop-itist, that has plagued his season. With slot receiver Trent Taylor (Ribs) listed as out this week, the team re-signed Louis Murphy who was with the team during the pre-season. Look for Aldrick Robinson to fill in Taylor’s role in the slot. Tight End George Kittle and Cole Hikutini have both been ruled out for this game (Hikutini is on Injured Reserve). The team has also re-signed Logan Paulsen who was on and off the team a few times this season. The defensive secondary of the Giants has not been without its own strife this season as both cornerbacks have been suspended at different points this season by the team. Both Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have been sent home, while second-year cornerback Eli Apple leads the team with eight pass breakups.
49ers Front Seven vs. Giant’s Offensive Line
The good news for the 49ers Front Seven is the Giants offensive line will be the least formidable unit the team has faced or will face this season. It will be an opportunity for DeForest Buckner and the rest of the young Niner’s to experience some success. Rookie Solomon Thomas is still battling an MCL Sprain. Once again, Leger Douzable will be counted on to pick up the slack. The men anchoring the Giants’ offensive line at Center and both Tackle positions are all third-year players and still learning the NFL game, therefore, it could be a huge game for both Douzable and Earl Mitchell. The linebacking unit, led by MLB Reuben Foster and Ray-Ray Armstrong filling in at the Will spot and Eli Harold will at the SAM, will try to continue the growth they displayed last week when Foster recorded 16 total tackles.
Eli Manning vs. Reuben Foster
Eli Manning is nearing the end of his NFL career, and Foster is just beginning his. Being the quarterback of the defense means Foster will be matching wits and audibles with the 14-year veteran. This will be a great learning experience and confidence booster if Foster is able to get his defense lined up, and he can anticipate the scheme the two-time Super Bowl Winning quarterback will throw at him. Manning, on the other hand, will be looking to again use this as another step toward helping his offense gel for a run at respectability to close out this season.
Eric Reid vs. Evan Engram
Giant’s first-round draft (24th overall) pick Evan Engram (6’3” 240 pounds, Ole Miss) has emerged as Manning’s security blanket and go-to target in his rookie season. Last week he was nominated as the NFL’s Rookie of the Week for his efforts in a four catch, 70-yard and one touchdown day against NFC West contender, Los Angeles Rams. Engram leads all rookie pass catchers with four touchdown receptions. Among all tight ends, including veterans, he is tied for fourth in touchdowns, seventh in yards, tied for eighth in receptions, and tied for fifth in first downs gained with 23. Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt is now on injured reserve, meaning Eric Reid has moved back to the position he began the year at, after playing the past few games as a weakside linebacker in the team’s Dime Defense. Last week Reid came up with a big interception in the red-zone against Arizona’s big-bodied tight end Jermaine Gresham. The team will need Reid to show that kind of cover ability against Engram for the 49ers to have a chance at their first win of the Shanahan Era.
Storylines: The ties that connect the 49ers and Giants
Mike Solari the Giants offensive line coach was with the San Francisco 49ers (1992–1996)
Tight ends coach & assistant offensive line coach and (2010–2014) as the
Offensive line coach. He won a Super Bowl ring as a member of 1994 49ers coaching staff. Local ties that bind; Davis Webb and Shane Vereen both played their college ball at Berkeley at CAL.
One More Thing
The 49ers have no chance in the division, sitting winless at 0-9 for the first time in team history. They need to continue to evaluate the young players and vets to see which ones will be around to help continue the rebuild next season, more so than they need to win. Like with Foster vs. Manning taking steps to build in these remaining games will go miles toward seeing the 49ers once again become the perennial Super Bowl Contenders the Faithful have been waiting for.
Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.
All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Edward Erving Staff Writer @NinersLive.net and Co-Author, Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims