Giants – 49ers Preview: Diary of a Giants Fan
After a tougher-than-it-should-have-been win over the Browns last week, the Giants head on the road for a tough test against the 49ers. This is Diary of a Giants Fan.
Sports fandom is shortening my life. I say that with no actual evidence or statistic to cite, just the lingering hangover of 13 innings spent nervously pacing my living room and with the recollection that even a two touchdown triumph at home against a winless team brings with it a Mount-Everest-like spike in my blood pressure when my side spots 14 points to their opponents before remembering who's who.
Either way, Eli Manning rallied his team, Ahmad Bradshaw ran wild, my blood pressure equalized and the Giants romped the Browns. But done no favors by the NFL, that very blood pressure the Giants tested last week and the Yankees have run ragged since will be worked again as Big Blue is rewarded with their third trip to San Francisco in less than a year.
With a 4-1 record, the 49ers are one of the NFC's top teams; their overpowering defense and better-than-expected offense - not to mention Jim Harbaugh's "look at my chiseled jaw line" brand of coaching - positioning them as a darling of the pundits, a favorite to reach and even win the Super Bowl.
And so it is another tough road test for the G-Men, one that will need to be answered, first and foremost, by quarterback Eli Manning - if any Giant fan out there suffers from the delusion of grandeur that Bradshaw will post a repeat performance, stop it and stop it now. To put it simply, the 49ers ain't the Browns. Indeed, the point makin' will fall to the capable hands of Eli Manning, this Sunday - who hopes to have Hakeem Nicks back for the first time since week two.
But even if Nicks isn't back, will it make an impact on Manning? Having seen how he connected with Randle last week - and other "wait, who?" names in the past - hasn't he earned the right to answer any questions about receivers in the vane of the legendary Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson?
Reporter: Do you need Hakeem Nicks for this passing game to be successful?
Manning: What do you think?
Reporters: I think--
Manning [interrupting]: IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!
Honestly, with Eli Manning at the helm, it's not the offense I worry about. Instead, it's the defense - and the Yankees - keeping me up at night. Will they get after Alex Smith? Will they contain Frank Gore and our old friend Brandon Jacobs - noteworthy only because he'll play in his first game of the season this Sunday. How poetic.
Will they be able to cover Vernon Davis? Michael Crabtree? Mario Manningham? Of these three, I feel Davis is the one to keep an eye on; he could have a big game, though the perfectly timed return of Keith Rivers figures to help - God help us if the responsibility of covering Davis fell to Chase Blackburn.
That said, with the continued depletion of the Giant secondary - including the third, THIRD, Giant suspension for Adderall use (one was overturned on appeal) - I'm not sure anything will matter but the performance of Tuck and the gang - which, incidentally, is a great name for a funk band. Alex Smith is no quarterbacking dynamo, but neither was Vince Young, neither was Charlie Whitehurst, and neither was Alex Smith when he prevailed over the Giants last year. Either they become the line they're meant to be, or suffer we shall.
No matter what way it plays out, I think we're in for a hell of a game. And not the shootout, score-every-possession contest that has become so familiar in recent years, but the old school, bruising battle of wills that colors the game's past. In the end, I'm just not convinced that the Giants will be able to take enough pressure off of a secondary that seems in need of a new piece just as the last new piece gets acclimated to the position - last week's casualty was Kenny Phillips (knee), this week, Will Hill (suspension). 20-17 49ers.
But then again...
Sideburns is right! IT DOESN'T MATTER! MANIFEST DESTINY! 24-20 GIANTS!
Either way, be sure to follow me on Twitter for live updates throughout the week - including the game wrap-up - and like the Cover 2 Facebook page for podcasts and show updates. And as always, Go Giants!