Considering the state of the 49ers defense the past few years, I always dreaded the potential mismatches other teams could create with their offense. The 49ers secondary was ravaged by the salary cap as we had practice squad garbage out there week after week. Well times have changed and I could not be more excited about the defensive matchups this weekend against the Giants. Obviously wWe're all curious about what the 49ers offense will bring to the table this week. However, if we assume the status quo, we'll need the defense to make more plays and possibly even score us some points. This is one week where it just might be possible.
Fooch's exhibit #1. First off, Eli Manning is NOT a bad quarterback. He can make plays, but he obviously is no Peyton. He ranks 19th in DPAR and DVOA and is averaging 1.3 interceptions per game. While he's got some quality weapons to throw to between Plexiglass, Shockey and Toomer, he just can't seem to take the next step in his maturation as a quarterback. He's got decent statistics this year, but he just doesn't seem like a guy a fan can trust week to week. I've exchanged some question with Big Blue View, and that was definitely one of them. I'm curious what a Giants fan has to say about the topic.
What can you say about Plaxico. He has manned up this year and is likely going to shatter his career high in touchdowns while possibly reaching career highs in receptions. The only thing that could stop that from happening, slow him this week is injury. He's had a problem ankle, which has kept him out of practice for most of the week prior to games. With a short week now, I'm curious to see how effective he'll be. Of course, the 49ers will also be blanketing him with Nate Clements, who's been money in the bank so far. I mentioned the Football Outsider stat on defenses versus certain types of receivers and the 49ers remain #1 against #1 receivers. I'm actually more excited about this matchup than possibly any other this Sunday.
The Giants running game is evolving into quite the little platoon. Against Atlanta, Brandon Jacobs rushed 13 times, Reuben Droughns 14 times and Derrick Ward 8 times. The 35 carries resulted in 188 yards and 2 touchdowns. Of course, the Atlanta Falcons don't have Patrick Willis patrolling the field along with walk-year beast Marques Douglas on the line. Aside from the Steelers game, the 49ers have played well against the run for the most part. The Giants have plenty of passing weapons, but the running game has been the key to their success in recent years. The 49ers will once again have to force Manning to try and beat them in the air, obviously no easy task.
So any early predictions on the defense's performance as far as turnovers, defensive points, etc...?