What a difference a week makes.
The San Francisco 49ers lineup will look completely different than it did last week. The Niners beat the New York Jets 31-13 but lost several key players to injuries.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Solomon Thomas, and Richard Sherman are OUT when San Francisco takes on the New York Giants. Tight end George Kittle will be a game-time decision.
Quarterback Nick Mullens will make his first start since the 2018 season. The 49ers brought in defensive lineman Dion Jordan and Ziggy Ansah to replace Bosa and Thomas.
The Giants will be without standout running back Saquon Barkley, who is done for the season after tearing his ACL last week.
Here are the predictions for Week 3 from Niners Nation contributors:
Kyle Posey: Even with a healthy Saquon, the Giants rushing attack has been below average. I do worry about New York having success through the air to Darius Slayton and Golden Tate. Still, the 49ers’ defensive line, even with injuries, is good enough to get the best of the Giants’ inexperienced offensive line. Win on early downs and get New York into obvious passing situations should be San Francisco’s goal. Daniel Jones and company have been one of the worst third-down teams in the NFL. They’ve also only had six red-zone trips, which are the fourth-fewest in the NFL, and converted 33% of those trips into touchdowns. Only the Jets have been worse. In the areas of the game that make a difference, the Giants haven’t been efficient or effective.
Kyle Shanahan said the offense would look the same, even with Mullens as a starter, and expects Mullens to play well. Instead of guessing how the Niners will perform, we can only examine how the Giants have done through two games. New York’s defense has the second-best success rate the NFL, which may come as a surprise to many. That’s thanks to the top rushing defense, using success rate. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams make for a stout interior. Add in Dalvin Tomlinson, and it’s difficult to move those three players. The 49ers offensive line will have to be up to the task, as this unit struggled last week against the Jets.
There are a few areas where the Giants have struggled on defense, though. They’re allowing a 54% third-down conversion rate, which is third-worst in the league. In the red zone, opposing offenses have scored a touchdown in four of their six trips. Mullens and the 49ers have to take advantage, and that’s where a mismatch like Reed will come in handy. The Giants are a middle of the pack team as far as their blitz and pressure rate. They’re below average at getting to the quarterback, and that bodes well for Mullens. I think this will be an oddly entertaining game, but I don’t think the Giants will slow down Shanahan’s attack, and a Jones turnover will be the difference.
Kyle’s prediction: 49ers 27, Giants 24.
Rob Guerrera: Watching this game will be like watching Star Wars without Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. The hope is that Nick Mullens and Jerrick McKinnon can be John Boyega and Daisy Ridley while avoiding the Sarlacc that is the MetLife Stadium field turf. The simple truth is that the 49ers are in a survive-and-advance mode now. While they should still be able to handle the Giants, they could also very easily lose this game if Mullens plays like Jar Jar Binks.
Rob’s prediction: SF wins 20-17
Jas Kang: This is another game the 49ers need to win if they want to make it to the playoffs. The G-Men are not on the Niners’ level, even with all of the injuries. New York’s defense has played well and ranks fourth in yards allowed against per game. Their offense is another story. The Giants are 29th in yards for, and Daniel Jones has thrown for 241 yards per game. Without Barkley, San Francisco’s defense should be able to keep New York’s offense in check. The Giants will get a late touchdown to make things interesting, but the 49ers’ depth will be enough.
Jas’ prediction: SF wins 24-20
What is your prediction for the final score?