Giants run D looking to stop 49ers Frank Gore
The New York Giants run defense has been so porous this season
that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell spends more time then he
prefers answering questions about it.
This week was no different, especially with the pound-it-out San
Francisco 49ers (7-1) on tap and running back Frank Gore shooting
for his sixth straight 100-yard rushing game on Sunday.
The odds on Gore extending the streak are good, since the Giants
(6-2) haven’t held an opponent under 100 yards rushing since the
second weekend of the season, The closest they came was last week,
limiting the New England Patriots to 106 yards on 24 carries, with
the first one netting 18 yards.
“I thought we improved some last week,” Fewell said. “Obviously
I didn’t like the first play of the game, but I thought we came
back and responded well. I thought we tackled better last week
Stopping Gore is a different story. The seven-year veteran is
averaging 4.9 yards a carry in gaining 782 yards halfway through
“No one has really stopped him and the tape we watch, the best
team was Dallas and that is a 3-4 defense,” defensive end Justin
Tuck said. “We are different. We have a huge challenge slowing him
down. He is a great running back and he is running really
Tuck said the biggest key for the Giants will be maintaining
their gaps along the line, the area that has been a consistent
problem for them.
“We need to make sure that he shuffles his feet,” Tuck said. “He
is a back with great vision and once that crease opens, he is
hitting it 100 percent. Watching him on film, it is like he knows
where it is going to open and he is sitting there waiting for it
and waiting for it. When it opens, he hits it. I think it is gap
integrity and making sure it is bundled up and he doesn’t have any
What is interesting is that the Giants’ defense has spent most
of the season defending against three wide receivers. It has forced
them to play a lot of nickel and dime packages, and that has been
part of the problem defending the run.
The Niners seem to rely more on the run than any other team New
York has faced so it might give them a chance to use their
traditional 4-3 package more.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora said Friday that no matter what
defense the Giants use, it must start with stopping the run.
“Nobody’s been able to fully stop them yet, but if we contain
the run and if the offense continues to play well and put up
points, then we’ll be able to get them out of the game they want to
play,” Umenyiora said. “They want to control the clock and play
smart ball, which is what they’ve done all year, which is why
Gore, who was limited to 107 yards by Washington last weekend,
said a lot of his success can be attributed to the play of the
49ers line and the blocking of the receivers.
“I always felt like I could run the ball,” he said. “We are just
playing selfish-free ball and if the running game is not there, we
are going to try our best to put it in the air. It is not just me,
it is everybody, we are all one. When you get a team that is all as
one, on the same page, we feel like we can do anything.”
Fewell has used some wrinkles to help against the run. Two weeks
ago against Miami, he employed five defensive linemen in some
schemes and in recent weeks he has had veteran safety Deon Grant
moving closer to the line because he can both cover the tight end
and he’s strong against the run.
New York also likes to change things up by using safety Antrel
Rolle in the same role, which should be interesting for Gore. He
and Rolle grew up in Florida and played on opposing teams in Pop
Warner. They both were running back who wore the No. 3.
“Our goal is much bigger than Frank Gore,” Rolle said. “He is a
great player for their team and we understand his strengths, but
they have more guys who can hurt you. We have to stay true to what
we are. It is not all about Frank Gore. He is a big factor but we
still have to play good football. There is more than Frank Gore to