The New York Giants are a franchise in upheaval. They have a head coach, Ben McAdoo, who is probably going to get fired this offseason. They have a quarterback, Eli Manning, who is both important to the franchise for what he’s been able to do but who has been terrible in his later years.
They have a locker room full of players on the verge of mutiny. They have suspended players for violating team rules. Some guys just don’t want to show up at all, and it’s easy to see why. I certainly empathize with those guys. They have a job to do, but everything about the organization around them is crumbling, so why should they give it their all?
I don’t ever want to be the guy who says that one player is trying harder than another. Most NFL players are so fiercely dedicated to their craft that I, a simple sports writer, cannot even begin to imagine the passion they have for playing the game. But the Giants have continually put in effort for what is effectively a lost cause.
The 49ers, strictly speaking, are a lost cause when it comes to 2017-18. This season isn’t going anywhere in particular, meandering through injuries, quarterback changes and more injuries. But CEO Jed York seems to believe in Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch as the duo who can rebuild the franchise, and they will get multiple years to do so.
And that’s where the motivation comes in. The 49ers don’t look like a team that doesn’t care. They look like a struggling team beset on all sides by injuries, but one that continues to fight. The younger players want to improve and secure their spots on a team that will hopefully be better in the near future. The veterans, as always, have plenty to prove.
I can’t imagine what I’d be fighting for if I were on the Giants right now. Obviously, everyone on that roster wants a job next season. But who calling the shots right now will even look at these games and make decisions based on them? Nobody can blame the Giants players for what’s happening this season. It’s a lost cause.
The 49ers should win on Sunday. I don’t know if they will, but they are a more stable organization (that feels weird to say) with a more secure future.