Week 9 at Levi's Stadium was another bloodbath for the 49ers. The team lost more starters on offense and on defense. SS Jaquiski Tartt is on injured reserve and done for the season with a broken arm. WR Trent Taylor and TE George Kittle were both banged up and won't play in week 10 when the New York Giants come to town.
The 49ers and Giants have combined for 1 win this season. Both teams are looking ahead to the 2018 season after having such an abysmal start to the 2017 season. The 49ers have a new Head Coach, new GM, Young QB and a plan for the future. Giants have a second year head coach in over his head, an old QB, and not sure where this team is headed.
The 49ers have lost a starter on just about every level on offense and defense. Coming into the season the roster was already thin, and with the injuries it puts HC Kyle Shanahan in an impossible spot. Can this beaten up team come away with a W? There are match ups on both sides of the ball that will be crucial for the 49ers to come away with a win on Sunday.
Balance on offense
Week 9 saw the 49ers throw the ball 51 times with C.J. Beathard against the Cardinals. While the Cardinals ran 32-year old RB Adrian Peterson 37 times. Shanahan was asked why the team only called 16 run plays compared to 51 pass plays and he brought up the fact that the team was in four or five two-minute drills throughout the game, including the end of the 2nd half and late in the 4th quarter down 10. He stated the team wants to be balanced on offense. This week that’s going to need to happen. Get the ball in your best offensive weapons hands in RB Carlos Hyde. He needs to see 20 plus runs against this Giants defense. Help out your young QB Beathard, give him a chance behind this beat up offensive line.
Play action deep pass game
Using the run to set up the pass is a sure fire way to get an offense going. Run the ball down the opponent’s throat with you bruiser of a RB in Hyde and use the play action to spring WR Marques Goodwin deep. With all the injuries to the pass catchers on the team, they need Goodwin to be the big play guy he was brought in to be. Beathard has shown he has the arm to throw it deep, he’s overthrown Goodwin more than once on a deep ball.
Stop the run
The New York Giants biggest weapon, WR Odell Beckham Jr, is done for the season. The whole wide receiving group for the Giants is thin. They have been forced to turn into a running team due to injuries. The 49ers have been decent against the run this season and will need to completely shut down this Giants run game. Force Eli Manning to throw the ball to get first downs.
Sack the QB
After forcing QB Eli Manning to throw to get yards, the next step is to get in his face and hit him early and often. The 49ers have been a team that has been good at getting pressure up the middle but doesn’t really have that bendy edge guy. DE Solomon Thomas, the teams 1st round pick in 2017, was the guy best suited for the job. With Thomas out with an injury guys like DE Elvis Dumervil and OLB Eli Harold will need to step up and get pressure off the edge while DL Deforest Buckner, one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, does his thing up the middle.
Kyle Shanahan knew coming into this situation in the offseason that this 49ers team wasn't one draft away from being a contender. I’m sure he never would have thought 0-9 was a possibility going into the season, but here he is. The next 8 weeks will tell us a lot about Kyle Shanahan as a head coach. Can he keep these players motivated knowing this is a throw away season? Can he develop the young guys?
Biggest question of all is what is going to happen with new QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Shanahan didn't shut the door on Garoppolo playing this week. With the way the 49ers offensive line played in week 9 it seems like a long shot to let Garoppolo take the kind of punishment that QB C.J. Beathard took in week 9. Shanahan has said that every position is up for competition, so if Garoppolo has a better week in practice that Beathard and looks like the better option, Shanahan won't hesitate to play him. Yes, the season may be over in the eyes of fans, but Shanahan and this team wants to win no matter what.