NEW YORK GIANTS (1-7) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (0-9)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Levi's Stadium. TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (field reporter).
SERIES HISTORY: 32nd regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 16-15. New York has won five out of the last seven meetings dating to 2005. The Giants also have won one postseason meeting, a 20-17 overtime victory in 2011. The Giants are 4-4 vs. the 49ers in the postseason. They also won the last meeting played at San Francisco's old Candlestick Park in 2012, a 26-3 decision.
KEYS TO THE GAME: With one win between them in 17 games, there was little reason to be looking for this woeful matchup unless you are a draftnick touting who will be the No. 1 selector. Then 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan indicated Wednesday that he expects recently acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (Patriots) to make his 49ers debut Sunday. Exactly when and for how long remains a game-time decision … if not later.
"I'm very eager and excited to see him out there," Shanahan said before Wednesday's practice. "That doesn't always mean that's the right decision (to play him), so that's what I'm trying to balance out.
"If I just went off impulse and feeling, I would have done that the very first day, the very first second. But I'm trying to do what's right for Jimmy and what's right for our team."
Shanahan admitted one particular set of plays has been scripted for the fourth-year pro, acquired last week from the New England Patriots. So that probably will give a boost to FOX TV ratings in the Bay Area.
Shanahan assured C.J. Beathard begins this week as the starter, saying "I'm committed to C.J. starting right now. He's going to get all the reps as the starting quarterback right now when we go out to practice."
Both teams have had rough sledding this year along the offensive lines. The 49ers allowed 32 sacks and 80 quarterback hits (Welcome aboard, Jimmy).
With the banged-up Giants linebackers struggling to cover anyone, the 49ers may try to take pressure off whomever is at quarterback by launching running back Carlos Hyde early and often..
The Giants offense needs to get back to the formula it executed so flawlessly in that lone win this season (against the Broncos): a balanced offensive attack. The 49ers' run defense is ranked last in the league.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Giants LT Ereck Flowers vs. 49ers DE Elvis Dumervil. Since entering the NFL in 2006, Dumervil's 99 career sacks rank second among active players. In addition, Dumervil has 31 games with 1.5 or more sacks since entering the league. He'll face off against Flowers, the Giants' inconsistent left tackle who has played better the last few weeks and who has allowed just four sacks and 23 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus.
--49ers TE Garrett Celek vs. Giants OLB Devon Kennard. The Giants have allowed a touchdown pass to a tight end in all eight games. That's hard to do. Then consider this: Kennard, the strongside linebacker who has been the target of many of those throws, has been recorded with one pass defensed all season. Sounds like Celek, pressed into starting duties with George Kittle injured, can expect to be a busy man.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
NEW YORK GIANTS
--Out: LB B.J. Goodson (ankle), LB Devon Kennard (quadricep), LB Keenan Robinson (quadricep)
--Doubtful: CB Donte Deayon (ankle)
--Questionable: LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), LB Calvin Munson (quadricep), DE Olivier Vernon (ankle), DE Kerry Wynn (knee)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
--Out: TE George Kittle (ankle), LB Elijah Lee (knee), DE Aaron Lynch (calf), WR Trent Taylor (ribs)
--Questionable: DE Solomon Thomas (knee), CB K'Waun Williams (quadricep)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Giants RB Orleans Darkwa. After starting off the season as a rotational back who received a smattering of carries -- 21 over the first five games -- Darkwa has made the most of his opportunities over the last three weeks. Darkwa, who splits his carries with rookie Wayne Gallman, is averaging 15 rushing attempts and 74.3 yards per game over that three-game stretch. He will face the league's worst run defense; the 49ers are allowing 135.7 rushing yards per game.
FAST FACTS: Last week, Giants QB Eli Manning became the seventh player in NFL history with 50,000 passing yards. In the last meeting, he hit 41 of 54 passes (75.9 percent) for 441 yards and three TDs. He has done well in NFC West road games, throwing 18 TD passes and just three INTs in the past nine. ... Rookie TE Evan Engram has 15 receptions for 212 yards and three TDs in his past three games. He leads rookie TEs in receptions (34), yards (412) and TDs (4). ... DE Jason Pierre-Paul had two sacks in his last game at San Francisco. He has 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his past two road games. ... DE Olivier Vernon has six sacks in his past seven road games. ... 49ers RB Carlos Hyde had career-highs in receptions (9) and receiving yards (84) last week. He rushed for 93 yards and a score in the last meeting. He also has 980 scrimmage yards (108.9 per game) and seven TDs in his past nine home games. ... WR Marquise Goodwin has 148 yards (74 per game) in his past two home games. He leads the NFC with 19 yards per reception. ... Rookie LB Reuben Foster had a career-high 14 tackles last week.
PREDICTION: In a duel that could loom large in the "race" for the No. 1 overall pick, the 49ers look capable of finally getting on the board.
OUR PICK: 49ers, 23-21.
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