Know Your Opponent: 49ers Playmakers
Here is a closer look at the starters of the San Francisco 49ers
Five storylines heading into the Giants’ Week 10 game against the 49ers on Monday night:
1. Shurmur: Eli to start Monday “with the idea that he’s going to get us on a run.” The 1-7 Giants returned from their bye week on Tuesday and began preparations for the second half of the season, which begins with a trip to Santa Clara for a primetime matchup. Coach Pat Shurmur talked to quarterback Eli Manning a couple times over the weekend, telling him that he is going to start Monday night.
“I also explained to Eli that everybody needs to play better,” Shurmur said, “and as we go through this, it’s important that we’re not ‘almost’ in these games, we do what we have to do to get it over the top and win football games. We’ll just take it from there. But I spoke to the team about that, and then I also spoke to Eli about that specifically.”
Saying Manning will start Monday night led to the next logical question about what happens beyond Week 10.
“I told you, he is starting Monday. You roll with it how you want, with the idea that he’s going to get us on a run here and there will be no decisions to be made,” Shurmur said. “In other words, part of the conversation was, ‘We trust you, we want to work with you, and we trust the fact that you’re going to get in there and help us win football games.’”
2. Giants have a new guard, who goes from blocking for Gurley to Barkley. The Giants last week were awarded fourth-year guard Jamon Brown off waivers from the Rams, who released him after trading for former Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler. Brown, 6-4 and 340 pounds, has played in 42 regular-season games with 30 starts, and started the only postseason game in which he played. Last season, he started all 17 games at right guard for the NFC West champions. This year, he played in six games for Los Angeles, which was the NFL’s last unbeaten team at 8-0 before falling to New Orleans this past Sunday. Brown, who missed the first two games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, could be in the starting lineup on Monday night. John Greco recently moved to right guard after Spencer Pulley took over at center.
“It’s a possibility,” Shurmur said. “Again, he’s only been here hours, it’s not even days yet, but what he’s done and how quickly he picks things up, there’s a chance he could be in there.”
For Los Angeles, Brown helped pave the way for MVP candidate Todd Gurley, who leads the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Giants rookie Saquon Barkley ranks third.
“I’m excited – when you look at a guy like Saquon, dynamic, just like Todd,” Brown said. “I think as an offensive lineman, that excites you. I’m definitely excited to be able to get to work and see how I can help him have more opportunities to do what he does best. It’s exciting.”
3. Draft pick McIntosh activated. Last month, rookie defensive end RJ McIntosh practiced for the first time since joining the team in May. Today, he was activated off the reserve/non-football injury list on the final day of the 21-day window to add him to the 53-man roster. To make room, the Giants waived wide receiver and returner Quadree Henderson.
“I think my specialty is pass rushing and I want to be able to be a big factor in that and also be an all-around guy,” McIntosh said. “Help the D-Line room, help the defense and hopefully I’m a big factor in that.”
The fifth-round draft choice from the University of Miami said previously that he doesn’t “really feel comfortable talking about” what kept him off the field but added it’s “something that popped up and it shouldn’t come back up.”
4. The futures of QB’s Lauletta, Tanney. Rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta, a fourth-round draft choice, was arrested last Tuesday morning following a traffic violation in Weehawken. He will not be suspended by the Giants, but there will be “internal consequences” for the Richmond product who has yet to dress for a game this season. Lauletta was in danger of being late for practice that day, leading Shurmur to say that “the way I look at it, quarterbacks should be early.”
“Well, I’m disappointed because I think especially with a quarterback, you’re looking at decision-making in all facets of a player’s life,” Shurmur added. “He’s back to work, that will take care of itself. We’ve kind of stated what we feel about that, but he’s back to work trying to get himself ready to play.”
Meanwhile, Alex Tanney has been Manning’s backup on game days this season. He has appeared in only one game in his career – a 2015 outing in which he went 10-for-14 for 99 yards and a touchdown in a relief job for the Titans – but Shurmur would consider playing him this season.
“Absolutely,” Shurmur said. “It goes without saying. We’ve had him as number two throughout. We just don’t stack them up willy-nilly. Based on when we started this, Eli’s starting and Alex has been the backup. Again, when you bring in rookie quarterbacks, there is a process they have to go through to develop and some guys have to develop further than others. Once the world quits seeing the training camp practices, that continues and guys pick up things at different paces. You can look at all the first round draft pick quarterbacks – Donovan McNabb didn’t start until Week 8, and he was a first-round pick. Some of these other guys have started right away and they were picked higher, and so I don’t know what the world is expecting, we’re just trying to get him as good as he can be so that when he goes in there he has success.”
5. Third QB’s a charm in Bay Area. The 49ers picked up their second win of the season last week with their third quarterback. C.J. Beathard had been starting in place of Jimmy Garoppolo, who tore his ACL after signing a lucrative contract over the offseason, but it was Nick Mullens making his debut last Thursday night against the Raiders. He went on to become the third player in NFL history since 1950 to throw for at least 250 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in his debut, joining Hall of Famers Fran Tarkenton and Jim Kelly. Coach Kyle Shanahan has not named his starter yet, but it could be tough to pass on that kind of debut. Despite their record, the 49ers enter Week 10 ranked 18th in yards and points. On defense, they are tied for 14th in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed.