The Giants are riding high, but will the surprising 49ers shoot them down?
Out: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), WR Jerrel Jernigan (hip)
Questionable: CB Prince Amukamara (foot), T Stacy Andrews (back), C David Baas (knee), WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring), WR Mario Manningham (knee)
Probable: FB Henry Hynoski (neck), DE Osi Umenyiora (knee)
Questionable: DT Ray McDonald (hamstring), RB Moran Norris (fibula)
Probable: LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), WR Michael Crabtree (foot), CB Chris Culliver (shoulder), WR Braylon Edwards (knee), S Dashon Goldson (knee), RB Frank Gore (ankle), RB Kendall Hunter (ankle), CB Shawntae Spencer (toe), TE Delanie Walker (knee), S Donte Whitner (thigh)
The Giants are hitting on all cylinders. Eli Manning is playing like a MVP. Guys like Jake Ballard and Victor Cruz are stepping up. Brandon Jacobs ran well last week. This is an offense that can score on anyone, even more so if the run game continues to improve. Yes, Nicks and Manningham are questionable, but Manning has shown an uncanny ability to make guys around him better (see Cruz, Victor and Ballard, Jake). Yes, if Nicks and/or Manningham are out, Jacobs will need to step up, there’s no doubt. But, unlike past years, I’m not incredibly worried.
The Giants face a tough task against Frank Gore and the Niners. Gore is playing outstanding, and the Giants have not been great against the run this year. Look for Greg Jones to play more at the Mike, but he hasn’t played great, and it’s one of the reasons that Giants have played a 4-2-5 as their base defense so often. Alex Smith has been playing great, but this team is the Frank Gore show. Stopping him is key. Linval Joseph and Chris Canty will have to be huge, particularly in collapsing the pocket and forcing Gore to bounce it outside. The Giants will be able to pressure Smith, but it won’t matter if they can’t stop Gore.
If anyone saw the 49ers being 7-1 before the season started, you were lying. Most thought this team would be at the bottom rungs of the NFL. But, here they are. Obviously, Gore has a lot to do with this. So does the resurgence of Justin Smith. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman have been outstanding at linebacker. Greg Cosell says they have the best front 7 in football. Alex Smith is playing well, and doing so with a bunch of just decent receivers. Obviously, Jim Harbaugh has established a winning culture, a different culture than Mike Singletary. This team cannot be taken lightly.
This is a tough one. Going out west is never kind to the Giants. Add that to the fact that they’re banged up, and the 49ers are pretty damn good. In Eli we trust, sure, but this game is not just about him. I have real concerns about how they’re going to stop Frank Gore. I don’t think Greg Jones is up to the task, at least not right now. It’s a tough one, and I think it will be a close one. I just have trouble in confidently picking the Giants. FINAL SCORE: 49ers 24, Giants 21