LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 6: Cornerback Chris Culliver #29 of the San Francisco 49ers and teammates huddle up before taking on the Washington Redskins at FedExField on November 6, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
The 49ers are returning home for week 10 when they will host the visiting New York Giants, who are coming off a big win against the New England Patriots. It should make for a good match-up with both N.Y. and S.F. being considered hot at the moment. San Francisco will have to be cautious of which Giants team shows up to Candlestick that day.
The Giants did win a Super Bowl with Eli Manning, so the game should be competitive. San Francisco is sitting comfortably atop the NFC West at 7-1 while New York is fighting for supremacy in a division that is constantly in flux. Even though the Niners are favored to win, the Giants could snake a win on the road.
As far as the match-ups within the game, I am looking forward to the likely display of Herculean collisions that will be happening in the trenches. The 49ers front seven is always a pleasure to watch but seeing Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman take on Brandon Jacobs will be exciting.
The Giants also have a pretty good corps of wide receivers and it will be interesting how they match up against the ‘Frisco cornerbacks. Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz have performed pretty well and the rise of tight end Jake Ballard has been a treat for Giants fans. However, the Niners game-plan for their opponents and will expose the weaknesses of each Giant weapon.
The Giants defense also just held a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady to only two touchdowns while picking him off twice. This brings to question how Alex Smith might perform if the Giants were capable of doing that. Granted, Jim Harbaugh does not ask or expect Smith to do half of the things Brady does, and the philosophy of being careful with the football will likely continue.
It will also be interesting to see if 49ers running back Frank Gore can continue his string of huge games. It is still up in the air how much action Gore will see, as it was reported that he suffered an ankle sprain against the Washington Redskins. At this point, I would expect Gore to play and continue his phenomenal season.
It will be vital for the Niners to get the ground game going and keep Manning off the field. He claims he is an elite quarterback, then he should be treated like one. The combination of Gore and Kendall Hunter should cause some problems for the Giants defense and help the 49ers control the time of possession. Harbaugh usually finds a way to get them both involved and so far in 2011, they've produced results.
Justin Tuck is someone that also shouldn't go unmentioned because he is such a terrific player. He is a great pass rusher and no matter what side he's coming from, Joe Staley and Anthony Davis will need to bring their A-game if they hope to stop him. Protecting Alex Smith and opening lanes for the runners will be crucial, because this is a game that could be won or lost in the trenches.
I believe the 49ers defense will keep them in this game but it will be up to the offense to take advantage of the opportunities they are provided with. They can achieve that by doing the little things, like making sure field goals turn into touchdowns and penalties are non-existent.
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