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Meeting with the media on Wednesday, Harbaugh was asked what stood out about the Giants’ 24-20 win over the Patriots. Here was his reply (courtesy of the 49ers PR staff):
“So many things,” Harbaugh said. “What a good football team they have. How well they play on the defensive front, same with the offensive line. Just a really good team in the lines. Very good, elite quarterback and the skill position at receivers and backs, outstanding. Just across the board, linebackers, secondary, it’s an outstanding football team. Very good at special teams, very disciplined team, very physical team. They play well together.”
Take that as pre-game hokum. Coaches always play up a team’s strengths without revealing what they want to focus on. But a little deeper look suggests that the Giants, whose defense is known for its pass rush capabilities, have trouble against the run. For a hint, consider Beanie Wells.
Here’s a list of the Giants rush defense's performances so far:
Week 1, held the Redskins to 74 yards rushing in 28-14 loss.
Week 2, held a Steven Jackson-less Rams to less than 60 yards rushing in easy win.
Week 3, Philly’s LeSean McCoy busts out 128 yards on 24 carries, but Eagles lose to Giants.
Week 4, Beanie Wells (26) for Arizona posts 138 yards in 27 carries, but Giants win late in the fourth quarter.
Week 5, Marshawn Lynch leads the way as Seattle—Seattle?—racks up 145 yards in easy win over Giants, thanks in part to five Giants turnovers.
Week 6, Buffalo’s Fred Jackson goes for 124 on 16 carries in 27-24 loss to Giants
Week 7, Reggie Bush of the Dolphins—the Dolphins?racked up 103 yards on 15 carries in loss to Giants.
Week 8, the Patriots, whose running game is anemic at best, totaled 103 yards rushing.
Frank Gore, gimpy ankle and all, should be, uh, motivated, to say the least.
The Giants play the 49ers on their home turf. There won’t be any crowd noise to distract the 49er offensive linemen from getting off quickly at the snap. Furthermore, this is a team who looks to run first, run well and run often. Moreover, it has a defense that can limit the Giants offense so it won’t have to get away from the run.