Last night the NFL Network replayed the regular season game between Giants and 49ers and I took a peak. Somehow my recollection of the game was that the 9ers beat the Giants pretty badly and the Giants had a last gasp chance to tie the score. After watching the game again last night, with a sense of detached analysis rather than being emotional watching when the game was played live, my impression is quite the contrary. Giants moved the ball well against the 49ers and failed a few times in the red zone against the 49ers tough red zone defense. They gave away two second half 49er TDs when Weatherford hit his only bad punt of the year giving 49ers great field position. They scored their second TD when Eli threw an INT as a result of Manningham cuttingoff his route with the ball going right to the DB. Boley was injured right before both of those 49ers possessions and replacement rookie Greg Jones blew his assignment on both 49ers TDs. The first was pass to TE Davis and the other a run by Kendall. That was it. Those two plays were the entire 49ers second half offense. Giants marched down the field and got a TD to get them within 7 and marched down again with a chance to tie the game, but failed on 4th down from the 10. Give the 49ers credit because they did make some big plays. but it is also true that the Giants beat the 49ers at the line of scrimmage. If the Giants play a clean, tight game, limiting big mistakes and turnovers, they have a chance.
I think Harbaugh is a dangerous coach and he could pull some real tricks out of his bag. He may decide to play nickel all game to try and stop the Giants passing game, almost daring the Giants to run. He may feel that his LBs are so good that the defense can stop Giants running game even if they get away from their 3-4 strength, playing an extra DB instead of 4 LBs. Giants are going to have to pass the ball to win the game, even though they did run the ball fairly well against the 9ers in that first game. Ballard (Pacoe/Beckum) may become key players if the 49ers do this, finding holes in their zone coverage.
On defense, Giants do not use that much deception, so playing strong at the point of attack and not over-committing to stop the run is what got the Giants here and it will have to be what gets them through this game also.