The 49ers have had their troubles this season, but it’s nothing like the Giants have experienced.
They’ve lost four straight games and are coming off a 38-17 loss to the Seahawks last week in which the Giants defense gave up 350 yards rushing.
At 3-6, the Giants rank dead last in the NFL in total defense, allowing 404.9 yards per game. Also, the Giants have allowed 27.4 points per game, eighth worst in the league.
On offense, the Giants are a middle-of-the-pack team, still dangerous with quarterback Eli Manning and exciting young receiver Odell Beckham, but not the once-dominating running team. Former Raider Rashad Jennings and Peyton Hillis have been the team’s best backs, each averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
Oddsmakers have made the 49ers four-point favorites to win Sunday and get to 6-4 on the season.
Sunday will mark the return of 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith – who’s been suspended for the first nine games – but the first game since inside linebacker Patrick Willis was declared lost for the season.
Somehow, despite key injuries on defense this season, the unit has continued to play hard and have young players such as linebackers Aaron Lynch and Chris Borland step up and play very well.
On offense, it figures that the 49ers will run the ball vs. the Giants, just as they did last week in a win over the Saints. When the 49ers stick with a run-first philosophy, that usually leads to good things.
But the Giants know the Niners have seen the film of them getting shredded by the Seahawks on the ground last week, and have vowed to be much better vs. San Francisco.
Seattle especially exploited the Giants weakness around both ends, so this week defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said that’s been a focus in practice.
“It helps to have another opportunity to line up,” he told the New York Daily News. “It gives us another opportunity to go back and look at where we made mistakes, and correct it.”
Kiwanuka cited missed tackles and blown assignments, but said, “Everything is correctable.”
Even if they do fix what went wrong last week, the Giants defense is giving up 5.0 yards per carry over the entire season. This doesn’t seem to be a one-game blip, but a pattern.
Given that the 49ers need every game from here on out, expect them to hammer at the defense with running backs Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde from the outset.
The Niners have been inconsistent this season, but they pencil out to be better than the Giants on Sunday.