SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The New York Giants are coming off a 34-point loss at home, have several key players on injured reserve, and have won one game in a rough first half of the season.
As bad as things are for the Giants, they are even worse for the San Francisco 49ers (0-9), who are still seeking their first win under coach Kyle Shanahan. They lost three more players to season-ending injuries this week to raise their total to a league-high 18 players on injured reserve.
The game Sunday between these former NFC powers isn’t exactly a marquee matchup. In fact, this is the first time since 1984 that teams with only one combined win have met this late in the season.
“Go out there, get a win and just change the mentality, the feel, the vibe in the whole building,” Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. “If you come in and the woman at the front desk, she’ll be smiling, everyone will be a little bit happier. So it’s definitely a thing that we need. We need to go out and get a win and just have that one-game mentality.”
In that last game between inept teams, Cleveland (1-8) beat Buffalo (0-9) to give interim coach Marty Schottenheimer his first win as an NFL coach. The 13-10 game wasn’t exactly a barn-burner as the only TDs were scored on fumble returns, with the winning points coming when Ernest Byner picked up teammate Willis Adams’ fumble and raced 55 yards for the score.
Right now, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would take that kind of win for the first in his career and help validate owner Jed York’s decision to hire him last offseason.
“It’s hard after each game to look at the owners and say we’re sorry. I know we didn’t do it again. That is very tough on me,” Shanahan said. “I wish I could make this look better for him right now. I know it isn’t there right now, but I know it will be. He’s been great with that and understanding of that too. They’ve really let us do our job.”
Here are some other things to watch:
BEAT THE BLITZ: With rookie C.J. Beathard playing behind a patchwork offensive line that has been missing injured left tackle Joe Staley, the 49ers have been facing lots of pressure. No quarterback has been blitzed on more pass plays the past three weeks than Beathard, according to SportRadar, as defenses are testing the rookie quarterback playing behind the suspect line. He has completed 16 of 39 passes for 173 yards against the blitz in those games, while getting sacked four times. He has been sacked 14 times in three starts.
“You have to make people pay and that’s the only way to scare people out of stuff, and I think we’ve struggled to make people pay,” Shanahan said.
ELI’S STREAK: Giants quarterback Eli Manning is set to start his 208th consecutive game, tying big brother Peyton for the second-longest streak by a quarterback. Only Brett Favre with 297 has a longer string. Manning is not playing at the top of his game this year at age 36. His 6.1 yards per attempt are the lowest since his rookie season. He has not thrown for more than 225 yards in any of the past four games, and he is on pace to take the second-most sacks of his career.
Manning said he has no interest in turning the reins to a younger quarterback like rookie Davis Webb.
“I want to play. That’s what I like to do,” he said. “I like to play football and play quarterback. I understand that I got a job to do and I got to do it better and do it well and get wins and if you don’t, everybody’s job is up for grabs in this league.”
BANGED UP NINERS: The latest players to go down for the Niners were safety Jaquiski Tartt (broken arm), offensive lineman Garry Gilliam (knee), and tight end Cole Hikutini. San Francisco has been hit especially hard at safety, where Jimmie Ward already was lost to a broken arm, and tight end, where starter George Kittle is out this week with an ankle injury.
“I’ve never been a part of a team where it’s been like this,” Shanahan said. “But teams do have to deal with this type of stuff all the time, especially this time of the year.”
JENKINS RETURNS: The Giants will get back cornerback Janoris Jenkins this week. He was suspended for the loss to the Rams when he didn’t report back to the team in time for practices after the bye week. Coach Ben McAdoo said Jenkins will regain his starting role this week.