Hakeem Nicks: Giants Need Star WR Back to Give Them a Shot at Beating 49ers

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Hakeem Nicks: Giants Need Star WR Back to Give Them a Shot at Beating 49ers
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The New York Giants have been without Hakeem Nicks since their Week 2 win in Tampa Bay. He had a decent day, catching 10 balls for 199 yards and a touchdown.

He's been out with a knee injury since that time but is still second on the team with 237 receiving yards on the season.

The Giants have perhaps their toughest test of the season on Sunday: a road game against the San Francisco 49ers. If they are going to repeat their win in last season's NFC Championship Game, they will need Nicks on the field.

The 49ers have arguably the best defense in the NFL, powered by a dominating front seven that plugs running lanes and pressures opposing quarterbacks. Their secondary is good, but it is also the weaker part of their defense.

Elite receivers can get separation on the 49er corners, which means the Giants' wideouts can find space for Eli Manning to deliver the ball.

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Victor Cruz is having another great season, but he needs more help than what Domenik Hixon can provide. Having Nicks on the field would open lanes for all three of them.

Nicks was back on the practice field on Thursday. He stated he felt good after the work but that the decision would come down to how he felt on Friday.

In a statement on Friday, via Giants.com, Nicks stated there is a good chance that he'll be able to play on Sunday. 

I practiced. I did the majority of the practice–about four or five reps a period. About what I would normally do on a Friday practice. I did good.

I had coach watching me, asking how I looked, was I compensating or anything like that. I wasn’t. So it looked good. I feel good about it. We’ll see how I respond in the morning and then they’ll let me know.

Tom Coughlin expects Nicks to make the trip. They are worried about swelling in his knee, but Coughlin stated he can "be cared for on the flight."

Nicks is an important part of the offense, as mentioned by Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network.

Fantasy football fans will want to follow his situation over the weekend. Giants and 49er fans will want to pay particularly close attention.

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San Francisco can neutralize a passing attack that features Cruz and Hixon. However, the addition of Nicks takes away the ability to double-team Cruz.

Even with Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson working together on Nicks, Manning will be able to get him the ball. 

With Tarell Brown on Cruz and Donte Whitner possibly needing to pay attention to Martellus Bennett, the 49ers would need to keep Manning out of rhythm to protect against the pass.

Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and Seattle Seahawks.

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