A New York-California Fall Classic was denied to us in the World Series.
The NFL will deny us the same on Sunday afternoon.
Reeling from seemingly endless losses, injuries, and now potential in-house distress, the New York Giants will look for an ever so brief distraction of the constant silliness as they head to Santa Clara to take on the equally woebegone San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon (4:25 PM, FOX)
This game will mark the end of an NFC West trio for the Giants (1-7) who perhaps suffered their most embarassing defeat of the season last Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams in the form of a 51-17 drubbing at home.
It was the worst loss, by margin of defeat, for the Giants at MetLife Stadium since its opening in 2010. The Giants trailed by as much as 38, done in by 311 and a quartet of touchdowns from Rams quarterback Jared Goff, one of which came on a 3rd and 33, as Robert Woods took it 52 yards for a score.
The lone New York redemptions came in the form of a pair of Eli Manning touchdown passes to wide receiver Tavarres King and tight end Evan Engram.
If the 2017 season ended today, the 49ers (0-9) would hold the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. While they kept things relatively close in the early going, losing five of their first six games by a field goal or less, but have last their last three games by an average of 21 points, including last Sunday’s 20-10 at home against Arizona.
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard threw for a career-high 294 yards in his third career start, but he was also sacked five times, while the defense was unable to overcome 159 yards by Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson.
Season Series History
The dreariness of Sunday’s game will overshadow what was once one of football’s best rivalries, as the two teams meet for the 40th time, with the Giants leading 20-19. It was the eight postseason meetings, including four between 1982-87, that created an unlikely rivalry between East and West coast, the grit of the Giants defense taking on the finesse of the 49ers offense.
The two teams have even split those eight postseason match-ups, and five of those games produced the winner of the Super Bowl, including the teams’ most recent postseason meet-up, the 2012 NFC Championship Game. The Giants pulled off a 20-17 overtime upset at Candlestick Park en route to victory in Super Bowl XLVI two weeks later.
Overall, the Giants have won three of their last four against the 49ers and six of their past eight since the infamous loss in the 2003 NFC Wild Card Game, a 39-38 San Francisco triumph where the Giants blew a 24-point lead.
The most recent match-up came in October 2015, when the Giants took a 30-27 win, featuring an Eli Manning touchdown pass to tight end Larry Donnell with 21 seconds to go to secure victory.
In terms of numbers, this is the lowest combined win percentage between two teams entering a Giants game since 1966, as the Giants are 49ers are a combined 1-16 (.059). That previous low came between the Giants and Falcons in 1966 at Yankee Stadium, when the 1-7-1 Giants took on the 0-9 Falcons. Atlanta won the game 27-16.
The Competitive Edge
Key Matchup To Watch: 49ers Tight Ends vs. Giants Linebackers
The Giants have recently enjoyed some scoring from tight end Evan Engram, and it’s about time the tight end scoring balance out for this team.
Dating back to last season, the Giants have allowed a tight to score a touchdown in nine consecutive regular season games.
Stopping that streak becomes even harder this week, as the Giants top three linebackers are all out with injuries. So depleted are the linebacker corps that Kelvin Sheppard and Deonte Skinner, both of whom spent time with the team last year(Sheppard had 50 tackles last season), were brought back in haste.
Sheppard, who has not been in anyone’s system this season (Skinner was on Oakland’s practice squad), may have to wear the defensive radio helmet, if only because he’s the most experienced with the defense.
He’ll likely be flanked by undrafted rookies Curtis Grant and Calvin Munson, the later of whom is questionable to play this week. Though he too is questionable, the Giants could get some additional help in the return of Jonathan Casillas, whose neck injury has kept him out of recent contests.
The 49er tight ends are dealing with injuries as well. Fifth-round pick George Kittle, who had receptions in each of his first nine games, is out with an ankle injury, so the workload will go to veteran Garrett Celek, brother of longtime Giants rival Brent, and workhorse Logan Paulsen. If the Giants are going to end that unsightly streak, this is the week.
|Giants||LB B.J. Goodson||Ankle||OUT|
|Giants||LB Devon Kennard||Quad||OUT|
|Giants||LB Keenan Robinson||Quad||OUT|
|Giants||CB Donte Deayon||Ankle||DOUBTFUL|
|Giants||LB Calvin Munson||Quad||QUESTIONABLE|
|Giants||LB Jonathan Casillas||Neck||QUESTIONABLE|
|Giants||DE Olivier Vernon||Ankle||QUESTIONABLE|
|Giants||DE Kerry Wynn||Knee||QUESTIONABLE|
|49ers||TE George Kittle||Ankle||OUT|
|49ers||LB Elijah Lee||Knee||OUT|
|49ers||DE Aaron Lynch||Calf||OUT|
|49ers||WR Trent Taylor||Ribs||OUT|
|49ers||DE Solomon Thomas||Knee||QUESTIONABLE|
|49ers||CB K’Waun Williams||Quad||QUESTIONABLE|
The Giants Will Win If…
They lose and remain in contention for the number one pick? But seriously…
What the Giants need to do is make a rookie quarterback, already struggling as is, uncomfortable in his own building. He’s barely been there for a week, but San Francisco fans are already clamoring for Jimmy Garoppolo to start.
On the defensive line, the Giants will possibly be getting a key piece in Olivier Vernon, who appears ready to go after sitting out the past few games. If they can make Beathard uncomfortable and tune out the many, many, distraction awaiting for them back in East Rutherford, they can get their second win of the season.
The 49ers Will Win If…
The Niners, too, can take advantage if the Giants’ depleted state and help their rookie quarterback adjust to the game.
Another that would help Beathard, and the Niners as a whole, is getting running back Carlos Hyde back to form. Prior to the season, getting Hyde a lucrative contract extension was the talk of the town, but he’s mostly struggled save for a 124 yard performance against Seattle in Week 2. In his defense, however, he’s not getting the ball as often as he should be.
Despite averaging four yards a carry, San Francisco continues to throw the ball, leading the league in attempts (366), yet they’re dead last in the league in passing touchdowns (6). The Giants run defense, in a complete contrast from last season, has had a brutal time defending the run. It could be the perfect opportunity for Hyde to break out.
Let’s hope you’re ready for plenty of bad football. These two teams are a combined 1-16 for a reason. The difference is, we somewhat foresaw this in San Francisco, while the Giants need to show something, anything, to prove that they should still be an NFL team after entering this year with Super Bowl aspirations.
This week’s distractions, however, are going to be too much to deal with, and with their focus elsewhere, the Giants will allow San Francisco to earn their first win of the year in front of an indifferent Levi’s Stadium crowd.
49ers 13, Giants 10