The San Francisco 49ers have looked like the NFL’s best team this season. After a Week 1 destruction of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 49ers followed that up by scoring a victory over the Los Angeles Rams. San Francisco seems to have found its man at quarterback in Brock Purdy.
With a strong defense behind him, there is no telling how far the 49ers can go. In the case of the Giants, they are still trying to figure out if Daniel Jones is the man at quarterback for them. New York’s offense struggled in the first half against Arizona. The Giants were able to rally for a victory, but that type of comeback won’t be possible on a week-to-week basis.
New York was shut out for the first six quarters of the season before the offense caught up. If the Giants can’t get things going early against San Francisco, the 49ers will bury New York in a deficit that the Giants won’t be able to dig themselves out of.
49ers and Giants Have Fantastic Rivalry
The 49ers will be a 10.5-point favorite when the Giants travel to Levi’s Stadium for a battle at 8:16 p.m. Thursday in Santa Clara, Calif. San Francisco and New York have a long history, which includes eight battles in the postseason. The 49ers and Giants are meeting for the first time since San Francisco won 36-9 in New York on Sept. 27, 2020.
San Francisco and New York haven’t met in the playoffs since the 2011 NFC Championship game. The 49ers and Giants have split the last six meetings between the two teams.
San Francisco’s Offense Continues to Churn Forward
The 49ers have scored 30 or more points in at least five straight games. Despite the success, San Francisco still hopes its quarterback, Brock Purdy, can add a few more elements to his game. Of most significant concern is stretching the field.
Most important for the 49ers is that Purdy takes care of the ball. During 10 career starts, he has only thrown two interceptions and lost two fumbles. Brock Purdy has thrown for 426 yards and two touchdowns this season. He leads the NFL in QBR at 86.6.
Barkley Will Be Week-to-Week
Giants star running back Saquon Barkley tried hard to secure a long-term deal in the offseason to offer security. Barkley realized his worst nightmare during the Giants’ win over the Cardinals. He suffered a sprained ankle and will be week-to-week.
Barkley finished with 63 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown against the Cardinals. Before this season, Barkley had finished with more than 1,000 yards running in three of the past five seasons. Barkley will be nervous a long-term injury can impact his future.
Giants’ Defense Will Be Focused on Stopping McCaffrey
San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey will likely draw much attention from the Giants’ defense. Last season, the Giants used safety Xavier McKinney to shadow McCaffrey when he played for the Carolina Panthers. Instead of playing in his usual spot, McKinney was asked to move to linebacker.
McCaffrey still topped 100 yards rushing, but he was limited to four catches on 26 yards. This will be a new challenge for the Giants. Carolina didn’t have a strong quarterback last season, while the 49ers are solid at the position. McCaffrey has a league-high 268 rushing yards and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. New York will have its hands full.
Bosa Still Seeks to Bring Down Quarterback
San Francisco defensive lineman Nick Bosa didn’t allow his holdout to extend into the regular season. After leading the league with 18.5 sacks last season, Bosa hasn’t yet picked up on his top pass-rushing form. Bosa has played in both regular season games and hasn’t recorded a sack.
Bosa has a tackle for loss and has made two solo tackles. He has four quarterback hits this season. During the past two seasons, he has 48 and 32 quarterback hits, respectively. As a team, San Francisco has sacks this season. Defensive end Drake Jackson leads the team with three sacks.
New York’s Defense Has Many Flaws
The Giants haven’t found many remedies to slowing down opposing offenses so far this season. New York is last in scoring defense, having given up 68 points. The Giants have been way too polite to opposing offenses.
New York hasn’t recorded a quarterback sack yet nor forced a turnover. The Giants have allowed 136.5 rushing yards per game. New York has also struggled to bring down ball carriers. The Giants missed 12 tackles against the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Aiyuk Has Share of Injury Issues
San Francisco wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is on the injury report with a shoulder injury. Purdy has come to count on Aiyuk to make big plays in the passing game for the 49ers. Aiyuk finished with 1,015 receiving yards last season on 78 catches and scored eight touchdowns.
So far this season, Aiyuk has been one of Purdy’s top targets. Aiyuk has 172 receiving yards and two touchdowns this season.
Hyatt Made Play Against Arizona that Sparked the Comeback
When the New York Giants drafted wide receiver Jalin Hyatt in the third round out of Tennessee, they hoped to have found a playmaker. It was his 54-yard catch, his first catch at a professional, that helped the Giants rally from a 20-0 halftime deficit to win.
Last season, New York needed help completing passes down the field. The Giants completed only 28 passes of 20 yards or more last season. Last Sunday against Arizona, New York completed four of those plays in the second half. At Tennessee, Hyatt exploded during his junior season with the Volunteers.
Hyatt finished with 1,267 receiving yards on 67 catches with Tennessee. The Giants are hoping he can grow into his role as a professional just like he did in college.