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Defense faces another read-option threat in 49ers


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson last week arguably frustrated the Giants' defense as much as any player has in recent memory.


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Superbly executing Seattle's zone read scheme, Wilson had 14 rushing attempts for 107 yards, a 7.6-yard average. Time and again, he faked a handoff or simply ran around an end and picked up a chunk of yardage before sliding to a stop. Wilson picked up a first down on seven of his runs, including a one-yard touchdown that was the final score in the Seahawks' 38-17 victory.

While Wilson was running wild, Marshawn Lynch was grinding out 140 yards and scoring four touchdowns.

"I think, one, our objective going into the game was to try to contain 24 (Lynch)," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said today. "Then we knew that 3 (Wilson) would pull it. We had a hard time tackling 24, because he was having a good day. I think the focus went more to 24 than it did to 3."

On Sunday, the Giants will host a San Francisco 49ers team that uses many of the same zone read concepts and has durable Frank Gore at running back and multi-skilled Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. Kaepernick has rushed for 298 yards on 53 carries this season and is capable of inflicting the same damage Wilson did.

So what is Fewell doing to prevent that?

"We tried to change our approach this week in how we taught it," Fewell said. "Then we also worked hard and put a lot of energy and effort into making sure that we explained exactly what the assignments were. We also walked through the different assignments and we've just continuously, mentally and physically and verbally, gone through option-football assignments."

Facing somewhat similar offenses two weeks in a row should help the defense's preparation.

"It gives us an opportunity to go back, look at where we made mistakes and correct them this week," said defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, "so that we can go back out there and show that we've got those mistakes corrected and just play ball after that."

But all the preparation will go for naught if the Giants don't execute in the game.

"Everything is correctable," Kiwanuka said. "There were a number of things that went wrong. There were some assignment errors, there were some missed tackles. I had a few myself. It's a matter of understanding what the defense is asking you to do. And once you're there, you have to make the play."

19 photos from Thursday's practice

Four Giants did not practice: Kiwanuka (knee), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf), running back Peyton Hillis (concussion) and linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion). Hillis left the Seattle game in the first quarter. Williams played the entire game on Sunday and did not display concussion-like symptoms until Monday, when he was examined and diagnosed after reporting he had a headache to the team's medical staff.

Fewell said Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger and rookie Devon Kennard will fill Williams' roles.

Jenkins has missed two days of practice after suffering a setback late in the Seattle game. "That's why he is like he is," Coughlin said. "He had some swelling."  Jenkins returned to action in Seattle after missing the game vs. Indianapolis the previous Monday night.

  • Four players were limited in practice: running back Rashad Jennings (knee), defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder), tight end Daniel Fells (neck) and safety Nat Berhe (ankle). 

Kiwanuka and Moore essentially switched places, as the former was limited yesterday, but not today and the latter sat out yesterday's workout.

  • Coughlin said Jennings continues to make progress after missing four games with a sprained MCL.

"He did a good job again, practiced, took a lot of turns - did pretty well," Coughlin said.

Jennings, however, isn't likely to carry the ball 34 times, as he did against Houston on Sept. 21.

"I don't intend that he would take a full, full load," Coughlin said. "He and Andre (Williams) will no doubt share the load. I think, after having worked the way he has for a couple of weeks, if we can get to the game and be in the same shape we're in right now, that he'll be able to work."

  • Quintin Demps will likely return to his role as the team's primary kickoff returner with Michael Cox sidelined for the season with a fractured leg. Preston Parker and Kevin Ogletree will be in reserve.

Cox (23.7-yard average) and Demps (21.3) each have 11 returns this season.

Cox was injured late in the Seattle game last week.

"I feel really bad about that," special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said. "He was really making strides as a total special teams player, and covering kickoffs. Tough blow. He is a good kid and works hard, keeps his mouth shut - it's tough."

  • Since Jim Harbaugh became the head coach in 2011, the 49ers are 20-9 on the road, a .690 winning percentage that is the NFL's best over that span. That includes a 4-0 mark in games with a kickoff at 1 p.m. Eastern time, when Sunday's game will start.
  • The Giants will hold their 18th annual food drive at MetLife Stadium Sunday when they host the 49ers. Fans are encouraged to bring canned or non-perishable foods and deposit them at any of the Stop & Shop bins at each stadium entrance. You can also donate to the team's Virtual Food Drive by visiting

    All food collected during the drive will be donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey (a member of Feeding America) for distribution to local partner charities in the area.

Since 1997, the Giants have hosted an annual food drive and helped feed thousands of hungry families during the holiday season. Thanks to the generosity of Giants fans, approximately 5,000 pounds of canned or non-perishable food is collected each year. Two years ago, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, fans donated more than 38,000 pounds of food and more than $18,000 to help struggling neighbors.

For more information about this event, contact the Community Relations Department of the New York Giants at (201) 935-8111.

Get to know the Giants' opponent for their Week 11 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers

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