The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants have met 42 times, including eight in the postseason. The two teams each have won 21. Thursday night’s contest at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will break the deadlock. San Francisco comes in as 10.5 point favorites over a New York team which will be without four starters including star running back Saquon Barkley and the left side of its offensive line.
Here are my five burning questions for week 3.
1 Will the 49ers defense be able to contain Daniel Jones?
Justin Fields. Russell Wilson. Marcus Mariota. Patrick Mahomes.
Those are the names of the quarterbacks who beat the San Francisco 49ers during the 2022 regular season. The first three are best known for their ability to beat teams with their legs.
San Francisco has long had a problem with containing mobile quarterbacks. On Thursday night they get their first test with one this season when they face Daniel Jones.
Over the first two weeks of the season the Giants quarterback has rushed 22 times for 102 yards and a touchdown. He has also used his legs to keep drives alive. Jones has picked up eight first downs while running, more than Saquon Barkley.
New York will be without Barkley who injured his ankle late in Sunday’s win over Arizona. As a result, former San Francisco running back Matt Breida the starter. This makes stopping Jones the primary focus for the 49ers defense.
2 Will Brock Purdy continue to roll?
Purdy is undefeated in seven regular season starts since taking over the quarterback job late in 2022. In addition to the win streak, the 49ers offense with Purdy at the controls has scored at least 30 points in six of those seven games. The only game they finished with under 30 came in a win over Seattle on Thursday night football. If the 49ers can get to at least that total tonight it will mark the longest such streak in franchise history.
The 49ers quarterback has gotten off to a hot start. Through the first two weeks Purdy has completed 15 or 20 passes which have travelled at least ten yards past the line of scrimmage. Through the first 2 weeks he has completed 13-14 (92.8%) passes in the intermediate range. Last year he finished at 80.4%, by far the best since Pro Football Focus began tracking this in 2003.
3 Will the 49ers keep Darren Waller out of the endzone?
San Francisco has some recent history with New York tight end Darren Waller. As a member of the Raiders last season Waller caught three passes for 72 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown on the opening possession of the game. He provides a tough matchup for Fred Warner and safety Talanoa Hufanga.
New York having two starting offensive linemen out could help the 49ers in coverage. The Giants will be without starting left tackle Andrew Thomas and starting left guard Ben Brederson.
Moving into the lineup for New York will be Josh Ezeudu at left tackle and Mark Glowinski at left guard. The two were on the field last week when the Giants scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to come from 21 down and beat Arizona.
Against Arizona Ezeudu allowed just one sack on 45 pass blocking snaps while Glowinski allowed only one hurry in 24 pass blocking snaps.
As we saw on Sunday against Los Angeles, if the 49ers are unable to generate pressure on the quarterback it could be a long day on the back end of the defense.
4 Will Christian McCaffrey rush for over 100 yards for the third straight week?
Christian McCaffrey has eclipsed 100 yards in each of the first two weeks. His 268 rushing yards through week two are the second most in 49ers franchise history, trailing only Garrison Hearst who recorded 325 yards to open the 1998 season. McCaffrey needs just 58 rushing yards against New York to overtake Hearst for the most rushing yards through the first three weeks in franchise history.
With 100-or-more yards rushing against the Giants, McCaffrey would become the first NFL running back to eclipse that total in each of the first three games since Dalvin Cook in 2019. He would also become the only running back in 49ers history to reach that mark.
5 Will Brandon Aiyuk play?
Brandon Aiyuk will be a gametime decision. The receiver injured his shoulder on his first catch of the game against Los Angeles on Sunday.
After playing through the pain, Aiyuk underwent a CT scan Monday afternoon which showed no break to the clavicle area. His ability to play will be all about pain tolerance.
When asked Tuesday what he needs to see from Aiyuk before letting him play, head coach Kyle Shanahan said, “just that the trainers and him himself tell me that he can go.”
If Aiyuk is clear and feels good enough to play, he should. Although the 49ers have a talent advantage crazy things happen in the NFL. Look no further than last season when San Francisco sat Nick Bosa against Atlanta.
In that contest Marcus Mariota led the Falcons to a touchdown on their opening drive. Already without their best pass rusher, additional injuries throughout the game hampered the 49er defense. The struggling defense combined with offensive miscues was enough to help Atlanta pull off the upset.
49ers 31 Giants 13