Mon, 04 Dec 2023

Giants road trip into San Francisco without Saquon Barkley

Field Level Media
21 Sep 2023, 05:25 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)

Daniel Jones tries to win road games in consecutive weeks for the first time on Thursday, when the New York Giants' traveling party makes its way from Arizona to San Francisco without running back Saquon Barkley.

The 49ers (2-0) streak into their home opener with an NFL-best 12 consecutive regular-season wins.

The Giants rallied last week to beat the Arizona Cardinals 31-28 on Sunday and got comfortable in the Tempe area for an extra three nights before trekking to California.

They'll need a stand-in for Barkley, who injured his ankle in the victory and needed assistance to reach the sideline after scoring a rushing touchdown and catching a 9-yard TD toss from Jones to help New York erase a 28-7 deficit. Barkley led the Giants in rushing (63 yards) and receiving (six receptions, tied with tight end Darren Waller).

"It's tough," Giants linebacker Bobby Okereke said. "(Defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) will always say he's our best defensive player because when he's on the field running the ball, we are on the sideline. Saquon is an incredible leader; this team is going to miss him, but we also have a 'next man up' mentality. Everybody has to in this league."

Jones is in the crosshairs without Barkley and the entire left side of the offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Thomas (hamstring) and left guard Ben Bredeson (concussion) are also out for Week 3.

"(Jones is a) huge challenge," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "It starts with his legs -- anytime you have that speed and you can run the ball like he does," Shanahan said. "They're willing to run him. He's willing to run. He's physical when he runs. He has the skill set to run away from people.

The 49ers know the next man up at running back rather well. Matt Breida gained 2,463 total yards with 10 touchdowns with the 49ers from 2017-19, then was traded to the Miami Dolphins.

"I just want to go out there and play for my team," Breida said. "At the end of the day, I'm grateful to still be playing in the NFL, you know I came undrafted, so just to be here I am blessed and whatever my team needs me to do, I'm going to do."

The 49ers have no injury concerns at running back.

Christian McCaffrey, the NFL's rushing leader (268 yards) by 88 yards through two games, is set to take on a Giants defense being hit for 4.6 yards per carry and 136.5 rushing yards per game. Martindale's inventive fronts, including a two-man line for multiple snaps against the Cardinals, aren't leading to much success or pressure on the quarterback to date.

The Giants are still looking for their first sack and takeaway this season. There is optimism from Daboll entering Thursday. The 49ers allowed 15 pressures Week 1 at Pittsburgh, but brought that number down to just six in Week 2, according to Pro Football Focus.

But it hasn't helped that New York was outscored 46-0 in the first half by the Cowboys and Cardinals, all but erasing risk-taking from either offense. Dallas pitched a 40-0 shutout in Week 1.

While McCaffrey is a sure thing on Thursday night, the 49ers are planning to work Elijah Mitchell into the game plan. Shanahan said he wants to get McCaffrey more rest. He's on pace for nearly 1,000 snaps in the regular season.

Shanahan expects defensive end Nick Bosa to continue making an impact -- he had three pressures of Matthew Stafford in the 30-23 win over the Rams -- even if it isn't showing up on the stat sheet every week.

"He's getting back into football shape, getting back into his groove," Shanahan said. "He got better and stronger throughout the game, similar to last week in that aspect. He finished the game really strong and took a step forward from Pittsburgh."

The Giants have allowed 10 sacks in two games. While Bosa isn't yet on the board, second-year defensive end Drake Jackson leads the team with three sacks.

49ers co-leader in receptions Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder) was among players dinged for San Francisco last week along with cornerbacks Ambry Thomas (knee) and Deommodore Lenoir (head). Aiyuk was limited Tuesday and is a game-time decision, Shanahan said.

--Field Level Media

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