The San Francisco 49ers, also known as the walking wounded, look to take care of business against the ghastly 0-2 Giants this Sunday and head to 2-1.
However, after suffering a comical amount of injuries against the Jets in a 31-13 victory, besting the New York Football Giants may prove more tricky than anticipated.
The Return Of Nick Mullens
After Jimmy Garoppolo was hooked at half-time with an ankle ailment against the Jets, Nick Mullens came in and, other than throwing an interception, took care of business. With Garoppolo’s ankle not fully healed, and not worth risking against the lowly Giants, backup quarterback Nick Mullens returns to the starting spot.
Mullens became a fan favorite in 2018 after playing admirably following injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and C.J. Beathard. Through eight games in 2018, Mullens threw for 2277 yards, 13 touchdowns, with a yards per attempt of 8.3 and 10 interceptions.
While we should not entertain any idea of Mullens surpassing Garoppolo, the latter being the highest-graded quarterback by PFF in Week Two, the fan-favorite Mullens should be able to guide the 49ers through timid waters.
Kyle Shanahan Versus The NYG Defense
It will very much be a case of the 49ers ‘B-Team’ taking on the Giants, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Nevertheless, Kyle Shanahan still has enough talent available to him, Jerick McKinnon, Brandon Aiyuk, and possibly George Kittle, to supplement his tremendous play calling.
Per Football Outsiders, through two weeks, the Giants actually rank seventh in defensive DVOA. However, on the field, there is a litany of mismatches for Shanahan to pick on. None more so than Giants middle linebacker Blake Martinez. Make sure to keep an eye out for Martinez getting cooked across the middle, similar to Isaiah Simmons from Week One.
Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepherd Missing For New York
The 49ers aren’t the only team dealing with injuries. The face of the franchise, Saquon Barkley, went down last Sunday with a torn ACL. To make matters worse, dependable wide receiver Sterling Shepard is missing this game with turf toe.
The pressure will be on for Daniel Jones, who is coming up against a, albeit banged up yet talented, 49ers defense. If I’m Robert Saleh, I am more than happy putting the game in Jones’ hands, rather than Barkley’s.
Reinforcements Along The 49er Front
Following losing Nick Bosa for the season, the 49er front office signed NFL veteran Ziggy Ansah to a one-year deal. The former Lion and Seahawk has had productive patches during his career. Ansah recorded 14.5 sacks with the Lions in 2015. Although Ansah will not fill the void left by Bosa, he’s an NFL caliber player capable of flashing at times.
Moreover, the Niners promoted defensive end Dion Jordan to the active roster off of the practice squad to bulk up that edge position.
Also, be sure to keep an eye out for Kerry Hyder. The inside lineman has been one of the 49ers best defensive players through the first two weeks of the season and is sure to be productive against a lackluster Giants offensive line.
To sum up… the 49ers, although beaten up, should have enough firepower and enough of a coaching advantage to come out on top against the Giants.
Players to look out for… With the injury to Raheem Mostert, rookie running back JaMycal Hasty was promoted to the active roster. I wrote about Hasty here and how his archetype makes him the ideal Shanahan running back.
It’s unsure whether or not George Kittle will be risked on Sunday. The NFL’s best tight end is currently rehabbing from a sprained knee suffered against the Cardinals in Week One. Although reports indicate Kittle is feeling ‘chipper about playing on Sunday,’ it will come down to risk vs. reward on Sunday.
With Barkley and Shepard absent for the Giants, expect the tight end, Evan Engram, to see more of the ball. As a result, 49ers defender Jaquiski Tartt may have a busy day in pass coverage as his speed and physicality will be used to neutralize the speedy tight end. Tartt already has one interception this year. Let’s see if he can make it two on Sunday.
Final score… Although injuries always play a factor, and Nick Mullens will be under center, expect the Niners to run away with this one comfortably. Niners 28 – Giants 10.
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