The Giants.com staff debates Big Blue topics heading into Sunday's game against the 49ers:
The consecutive start streak is Eli Manning's most impressive statistical achievement.
JOHN SCHMEELK – Fact: Before you can rack up any records, you have to be on the field. There is no better quality for Eli Manning than always being there. All the great quarterbacks have suffered injuries that forced them to miss either entire season or big chunks. Not Eli Manning. He's always there and that's impressive.
DAN SALOMONE – Fact: And it goes hand-in-hand with one of my favorite stats. Since Eli took over on Nov. 21, 2004, the Giants' three NFC East opponents have started 33 different quarterbacks: 12 for both Dallas and Philadelphia, and 10 for Washington (Donovan McNabb started for Philadelphia and Washington, but counts only once). In terms of the entire league, 186 other quarterbacks have started an NFL game during Eli's streak. Amazing.
LANCE MEDOW - Fact:Durability is a completely underrated stat in the NFL because how effective can a player truly be if he can't stay on the field? That question is irrelevant when it comes to Eli Manning. This Sunday against the 49ers, he'll make his 208th consecutive regular season start, matching his older brother, Peyton Manning, for the second longest streak in NFL history. That means ever since November 21, 2004, the Giants have always been able to rely on Eli over the last 14 seasons. During that stretch, some of the most decorated veteran quarterbacks, including Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, have missed at least a game, lengthy stretches of contests, or even seasons. In a sport where injuries are inevitable, Manning's streak is remarkable. All you have to do is look at how many quarterbacks the rest of the NFC East teams have started since he took over under center in 2004.
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants get set to face the 49ers
Orleans Darkwa will have more rushing yards than Carlos Hyde.
JOHN SCHMEELK – Fact: The Giants rush defense and rush offense have both been trending up. The Giants are running the ball as well as they have in years behind Brett Jones and D.J. Fluker, while Dalvin Tomlinson and Snacks Harrison have reestablished a physical front on the defensive side. The 49ers have struggled against the run all year and that will continue on Sunday.
DAN SALOMONE – Fact: The Giants have run the ball well as of late, but the problem is falling behind in games. That forces them to go away from it and things start to snowball, which we saw last week. If the Giants can just protect the football and not turn it over, I don't see why Darkwa can't be the leading rusher in the game.
LANCE MEDOW - Fact:The 49ers rank last in the NFL against the run. They're surrendering 136 yards per game. The Giants are not much better as they're tied for 28th (allowing 126 yards per contest). Carlos Hyde has collected no more than 68 rushing yards in each of the last six contests while Orleans Darkwa has run for at least 69 yards in three of his last four games. While I think the totals will be close, I'll lean toward Darkwa running for more yards. In a disappointing season for the Giants, the undrafted veteran has been one of the few bright spots and is averaging over five yards per carry. Over the last few games, the Giants have been more consistent on the ground, and I think that success will continue against the 49ers' defense with Darkwa doing most of the heavy lifting.
DeForest Buckner poses the biggest challenge for the Giants this week.
JOHN SCHMEELK – Fact: Buckner, all 6-foot-7 of him, provides a unique challenge for the Giants' interior defense. He is stout against the run and a force rushing the passer from the three-technique position. He might not be Aaron Donald, but he is plenty good in his own right. A sleeper in this category is rookie middle linebacker Rueben Foster, who is a force in the middle level of the defense.
DAN SALOMONE – Fiction: The biggest challenge is a guy who might not even get in the game: Jimmy Garoppolo. Since acquiring the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick protégé last week, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan hasn't rushed into anything while rookie C.J. Beathard remains the starting quarterback. But you don't give up a second-round draft choice for depth. Garoppolo will play sometime in the near future, and it could be this week if the game trends in that direction for San Francisco. Either way, the Giants have been planning for both.
LANCE MEDOW - Fiction:DeForest Buckner is arguably the 49ers' best defensive lineman because of his ability to stop the run and get to the quarterback but I think the Giants' biggest challenge this week is containing Carlos Hyde. Much like what they saw from Todd Gurley last Sunday, Hyde is just as dangerous as a receiver as he is as a running back. Hyde not only leads the team in rushing but he's also tied for the team lead in receptions with 40. With San Francisco's receiving corps banged up and New York struggling to contain opposing running backs, the Niners will likely lean heavily on Hyde and that means the Giants' defense will have to be aware of his dual threat abilities.
The Giants will record a season-high sack total against the 49ers.
JOHN SCHMEELK – Fact: Fact slam! The 49ers' offensive line is in shambles and Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon (if he plays) should have a field day. C.J. Beathard is a rookie quarterback that will hold the ball in an effort to throw it downfield.
DAN SALOMONE – Fact: Beathard has been sacked no fewer than four times in his three starts, which is exactly the Giants' season high. Even if Olivier Vernon doesn't come back this week from injury, I think the Giants should be able to win the line of scrimmage on defense. Be on the lookout for rookie defensive end Avery Moss, who is starting to come into his own.
*LANCE MEDOW - Fiction: *The Niners' offensive line has surrendered 32 sacks (second-most in the NFL) in nine games, so they're allowing 3.5 per contest. The Giants' season-high sack total is four, which they collected against the Broncos in Week 6. While San Francisco has had issues with handling pressure and has allowed five sacks in two of the last three games, I still think that may be a tough number for the Giants to reach. New York's sack totals have fluctuated this season and it's only recorded one multi-sack game in the last five contests.