49ers-Giants matchups: Part IV – Willis, Bowman and Whitner vs. Bennett

The 49ers play the Giants on Sunday at Candlestick. In the meantime, I’ll break down a couple of key matchups per day.

TE Martellus Bennett (6-6, 265 pounds) vs. Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Donte Whitner

With Dashon Goldson and Chris Culliver taking away the deep passes, Eli Manning probably will have to throw short and over the middle against the 49ers. That’s where Martellus Bennett comes in.

We know Eli Manning will pass to Victor Cruz about 10 times, but Manning has another option in the middle of the field – Bennett.

Bennett is exactly the type of tight end who gives the 49ers’ defense problems. He’s tall, he can catch high passes over his head and he can take a hit as he catches them.

Bennett started out the season on fire – 15 receptions and 3 touchdowns over the first three games – but the last two games he’s been targeted just seven times. He sprained his knee in the first quarter against the Browns, missed a quarter and soldiered through the rest of the game.

On Sunday, I expect Bennett will start and get about 8 targets. The only player to whom Manning will throw more often will be Cruz.

Advantage: Giants

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