The 49ers play the Giants at Candlestick on Sunday. In the meantime, I’ll break down one key matchup a day.
CB Carlos Rogers vs. WR Victor Cruz
When the 49ers and Giants played last season, Rogers covered Cruz on almost every pass play. That’s because the Giants like to line up Cruz in the slot in three-wide receiver formations and the 49ers counter with their Nickel defense, in which Carlos Rogers plays man-to-man coverage at the nickelback position.
Last season, Cruz caught 16 catches for 226 yards against the 49ers. Rogers couldn’t keep up with him.
Until the second half of the NFC Championship game. Rogers finally figured out how to read Cruz’s breaks and limited the Pro Bowl receiver to just two catches.
Will Cruz adjust to Rogers’ adjustments? We’ll see. We know Cruz is off to a good start this season, catching 5 TD passes through 5 games.
And we also know Rogers is off to a slow start this season. He’s been beaten over a dozen times in man-to-man coverage.
Cruz leads the NFL with 10 third-down catches for first downs. He is Eli Manning’s favorite third-down target.
The 49ers defense cannot allow the Giants offense to convert a lot of third downs, to put together multiple drives of more than 80 yards and eat up the clock like the Vikings did in Week 3.
It’s imperative that Carlos Rogers holds his own in this very tough matchup.