The San Francisco 49ers travel to face the New York Giants this weekend. The two teams have extensive history, particularly in the playoffs. We took a few minutes to chat with Ed Valentine from Big Blue View about this version of the Giants. I answered five of his questions, which you can read over at BBV. We also discussed which players we each would take from the opposing team. You can read that here.
Niners Nation: What has changed in the last two games, after the blown leads in the first two games? Is it simply a matter of execution? Or are there are things in play?
Big Blue View: Well, the Redskins were a gift from the football Gods in Week 3. The Giants have beaten them 5 straight times, so they showed up on the schedule at the perfect time. Seriously, though, the Giants have done an awful lot of good things the first four weeks. The only thing they didn't do is close two winnable fourth quarters.
It's far from a perfect team, but it's a developing one. They can still be much better offensively, and they are also just beginning to find their footing on defense.
NN: The Giants offensive line seems to be keeping Eli on his feet, but the run game appears to be struggling. What do you make of the Giants offensive line?
BBV: The offensive line is what I thought it would be without Will Beatty. Really outstanding in the middle with Justin Pugh and Geoff Schwartz at the guards, and making due at the tackles with rookie Ereck Flowers on one side journeyman Marshall Newhouse on the other. They block the run pretty well, and should probably have more to show for it than they do. They cover the weakness at tackle by throwing the ball quickly -- insanely quickly -- so Flowers and Newhouse don't get exposed there.
NN: Tell us about the Giants defense. They rank No. 1 against the run, mid to lower against the pass. What are the specific strengths and weaknesses of this unit?
BBV: When you think of Giants defenses of the past it was all about the pass-rushing defensive ends. This doesn't have them. For the most part they have to scheme to get pressure, sending extra guys. They do, however, defend the run exceptionally well. The front seven, cornerback Prince Amukamara and even safeties Landon Collins and Brandon Meriweather contribute there.
The middle of the field has been an issue in pass coverage, so I worry about Vernon Davis.
NN: How do Giants fans view Tom Coughlin right now? He's led them to 2 Super Bowl rings, but has missed double digit wins each of the last four years (obviously won the Super Bowl in one of those years). Is he pretty much coach as long as he wants?
BBV: No, I don't think Coughlin is coach as long as he wants to be. If the Giants end up having a third straight losing season no one would be surprised if they "retired" him. Saddened, yes. Surprised, no. Coughlin can still coach, he can still motivate players, he's still respected. And some fans who have wanted him out for, oh, 7-8 years, still want him out.
NN: Tell us about some of the young players on the roster that we should keep an eye on this Sunday.
BBV: Well, Nikita Whitlock is a fan favorite. Whitlock is a two-way player for the Giants and that's no joke. He plays fullback, and he will smash guys in the mouth. He also plays defensive tackle -- yes, defensive tackle at 250 pounds -- in some pass rush situations. The guy has a sack and a couple of pressures in, I think, 16 snaps at DT. He also plays more on special teams than just about any other Giant.
DE Kerry Wynn, LT Ereck Flowers, S Landon Collins are probably other guys you should be aware of. For the first time in a while there is a pretty good young talent base with the Giants.