After the 49ers play host to the division rival Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, they will then take flight to East Rutherford, New Jersey to face off against the Jets in Week 2. In Week 3, the 49ers will play another game in the East Coast time zone, playing back to back games at Metlife Stadium but this time against the New York Giants.
The 49ers and Giants come from two different ends of the spectrum. The Giants only won four games last season and have a lot to prove moving forward, whereas the 49ers only lost four games in 2019 and have Super Bowl aspirations in 2020.
Here is the third installment of the 49ers opponent breakdown as they face off against the New York Giants in Week 3:
New York Giants
2019 Record: 4-12, 3rd place in the NFC East
2019 Meetings with 49ers: N/A
Season in Review: Like most teams entering a season in which they have a rookie quarterback under center, the Giants scuffled for the better part of last season. Many questioned if Daniel Jones was worth the sixth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he did show flashes throughout the season of being a capable starter. However, his consistency and rhythm in the pocket never appeared to quite click on a regular basis, resulting in many up and down performances over the 12 games that he started under center.
Another aspect that held the team back from success in 2019, was the abundance of injuries to their offense. Starters’ Saquon Barkley, Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram all missed an extended period last season, making it hard for their rookie quarterback to find his groove.
Defensively, the Giants ranked in the bottom third in passing yards allowed per game and total points allowed per game. With so many injuries to their offensive skill positions, the defense was forced onto the field more frequently than they could handle.
Key Additions: LB Blake Martinez, CB James Bradberry, TE Levine Toilolo, QB Colt McCoy, RB Dion Lewis
This offseason, the Giants added two starters on defense with Blake Martinez likely to wear the green dot and James Bradberry who will slot into their No.1 cornerback role. Each player is still relatively young as both are coming off their rookie contracts.
Martinez is a tackling machine, recording 140-plus tackles in each of his last three seasons with the Green Bay Packers. His efforts in stopping the run are as good as advertised. But his duties of dropping back in coverage still remain an area he needs to improve. A hidden element that Martinez does well is rushing the quarterback. Over the last two seasons, Martinez has recorded eight sacks and 16 pressures.
Inserting Bradberry into the secondary will be a huge upgrade for their cornerback room. The former Carolina Panther averages two interceptions, 11 pass breakups and 69 tackles per season. With Bradberry entering his age 27 season, the Giants are potentially set to get the prime years from a talented cornerback.
Key Departures: WR Cody Latimer, OT Mike Remmers, S Michael Thomas
The biggest loss of the team’s departures is offensive tackle Mike Remmers. He started 14 games at right tackle for the Giants and allowed only three sacks during that span. He wasn’t the most prolific blocker but he was at least serviceable at a crucial position. Ultimately, Remmers helped keep the right tackle spot intact which has been the Giants’ Achilles heel the last few seasons.
Wide receiver Cody Latimer and safety Michael Thomas both played a decent number of snaps last season, but that was based upon the injuries to the team. Both are more suited as depth players, so not exactly sizable losses.
Notable 2020 Draft Picks: OT Andrew Thomas, S Xavier McKinney
General Manager Dave Gettleman entered the 2020 NFL Draft just one year removed from selecting the Giants quarterback of the future. With that in mind, he drafted Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick to protect the right side of the offensive line for Jones. Thomas was the first offensive lineman off the board and, if he lives up to everything the Giants hope he is, they might have just landed a young, top-tier tackle. In the second round, they scooped up free safety Xavier McKinney out of the University of Alabama. Some draft experts had McKinney mocked as a first-round pick, but he fell until Day 2 of the draft and the Giants got themselves a value pick who could help improve their young secondary. In college, McKinney was used in a hybrid role, so the Giants have several options of how they can use their new versatile defender.
Prognosis: The Giants project as a team that could improve their win total by several games in 2020. Injuries held them back in a major way last season. When you factor in their free agents and first two draft picks, they’re likely to have four new starters. Like most teams, health is key in order to put together a productive season, but that can’t be emphasized enough for the Giants. First-time head coach Joe Judge has his hands full to flip the script on the Giants, but after working under Bill Belichick since 2012, he’s seen how to build a winning culture. Can he build his own winning culture in New York? Time will tell.