The 49ers play the Giants on Sunday at Candlestick. In the meantime, I’ll break down a couple of key matchups per day.
LT Joe Staley vs. DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DE Osi Umenyiora
Staley did not play well against the Giants last Season. Week 10, he gave up 1 sack, 1 QB hit and 3 QB hurries to Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora. That was the worst game of the season for Staley.
In the championship game against the Giants, Staley gave up another three QB hurries, but he did not give up a sack.
Staley is not a great pass protector. He gave up three sacks to Clay Matthews Week 1. When the 49ers played the Vikings Week 3, Greg Roman often called bootleg passing plays that involved Alex Smith running out of the pocket to the right, away from Joe Staley’s protection. Staley was blocking Jared Allen, one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and Staley couldn’t hold his own.
He’s got two Pro Bowl pass rushers to worry about this week. Umeyiora had a sack and 4 QB hurries in the NFC Championship game. He shares time at right defensive end with Pierre-Paul, who is one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL (17 sacks last season). However, he has just two sacks this season, and he got completely manhandled by Browns’ left tackle Joe Thomas last Sunday (0 sacks, 0 hits, 0 hurries).
But Thomas is a better pass protector than Staley. Staley excels at run-blocking. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter are averaging 8.5 yards per carry this season when they run left between Staley and Mike Iupati.
On the other hand, Jason Pierre-Paul is an excellent run defender, too. Staley will have his hands full on every down against the Giants, run or pass.