Sunday’s game against the Giants is an NFC bragging rights game, but it’s also a game that will tell us how legitimate the 49ers’ new and explosive offense really is. And whether the defense can handle a legitimate QB or get befuddled like they did in Minnesota.
It also begins a three game stretch leading up to the Bye week that could go a long way to determining the NFC West playoff picture. After the Giants, the Niners face Seattle on Thursday night and travel to Arizona on a Monday night — three straight national attention games, and their first two division games.
The Monday night game at Arizona will be the only one the 49ers play during a three and a half week period. We should have a rested team when the season resumes at home against St. Louis on November 11. This strange hiatus from action coincides perfectly with Bay Area fans need to focus on the Giants and A’s improbable run to the World Series. Are the gods smiling on us? Or toying with us? Will we have double sport champions this year? Or double sport losers? We shall see.
No matter how it turns out, there is local excitement in the air — with jackets, caps, banners, fist pumps, sympaticoitivity abundant in the land — and that’s a welcome return to glory from the lean years between 2002 and 2010. Of course, some of you Niner fans don’t like baseball or don’t live in the Bay Area, so the 49er season will have to suffice.
Deep down, the Giants have to know the 49ers are a better team. They were better last year, too, and have improved since then. To overcome the Niners last year, the Giants needed two late game ST 49er fumbles, two uncaught easy interceptions, and one lost fumble gifted back to them in order to squeak out a win in OT. Certainly, they should not hope for a repeat of this ghastly largesse again this year!
The Giants’ HC, Tom Coughlin, did not use the Wednesday phone conference session to gush about the Niners, like coaches normally do for an upcoming opponent. Instead, he reduced the team to a run only enterprise and tried to play the Nobody Thinks We Can Win card. Sure signs of denial and fear. Coughlin does not want to return to New York and find himself replacing Rex Ryan as the city’s tabloid loser. The glow of SB Winning Coach erased in a heartbeat.
Coughlin’s attempt to suggest the 49ers don’t have a passing game was no doubt a cheap attempt to goad 49er OC Greg Roman into coming out with a pass wacky game plan, which would play to the Giants’ strength — pass rushing — and away from their weak run defense. There’s nothing that neutralizes a pass rusher quicker than having to constantly defend the run.
The 49er O-line has dominated two straight opponents, stonewalling them and steam rolling over them. This game will give them a chance at national recognition for excellence if they can dominate the Giants’ D-line, too. If they can, the 49er offense is going to be admitted into the hallowed room of powerhouse offenses, the room reserved for the Saints, Packers, and Patriots. The room once owned by 49er legend Bill Walsh.