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5 Things We Learned

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5 Things We Learned: Giants confident in RBs


Following their comeback win against the Cardinals, the Giants remained out west and conducted walkthroughs and meetings on the Arizona State campus before flying to San Francisco on Wednesday.

Coach Brian Daboll and numerous players spoke to the media while in Tempe. Here are five things we learned from the sessions:

1. Giants confident in RBs

Saquon Barkley was officially ruled out Wednesday, meaning Matt Breida is likely to lead the backfield against the 49ers. The veteran back carried the ball 54 times for 220 yards and a touchdown last season, good for an average of 4.1 yards per carry, while adding 20 receptions for 118 yards. Daboll is confident in Breida if the 28-year-old is called upon to lead the way against his former team.

"He's a pro," the head coach said. "He knows what to do, he knows how to do it, he's done it for a while. He's got speed, he's got some quickness about him. He's had some productive years as a runner, he was at San Francisco. He's just a pro and he knows our system well and we have confidence in him."

"I just want to go out there and play for my team," Breida added. "At the end of the day, I'm grateful to still be playing in the NFL, you know I came undrafted, so just to be here I am blessed and whatever my team needs me to do, I'm going to do."

Breida is not the only running back that will likely see touches. Gary Brightwell recorded 31 rush attempts for 141 yards (4.5 avg.) and a score in 2022, while Eric Gray, a rookie fifth-round pick, rushed for 1,366 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final season at Oklahoma.

"I'd say the three guys that we have behind Saquon, they are all here for a reason. We are comfortable with all those guys. Whether that's run or pass. Certainly things that we could all improve on, but they are all here for a reason and if he's out there, we have confidence in him."

2. Kayvon: 'Starting fast is everything'

The Giants have been outscored 46-0 and compiled just 158 total yards in the first half of games this season. Meanwhile, the 49ers scored 20 points in the first half of Week 1 and another 17 points in the first half of Sunday's game. Outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux knows the Giants can't afford to get off to a sluggish start on Thursday.

"It's all about complementary football," said Thibodeaux. "As a team, we've been trying to work on that, and starting fast is everything, whether it's defense going out there getting a three-and-out or it's offense going out there and putting some points up."

The Giants are faced with a tough matchup in Week 3. Heading into Thursday night, San Francisco ranks third in the NFL in both points scored and points allowed.

"I'm excited," said the second-year outside linebacker. "We've got a big matchup this weekend. Every game is a big game. So, being that this is the next one, I feel like the team is primed. We've been consistently making gains and I feel like it's going to be definitely a good matchup."

3. McFadden questionable for TNF; Thomas & Azeez out

In addition to Saquon Barkley, the Giants have a few other players currently dealing with injuries. Left tackle Andrew Thomas and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari both missed Sunday's game in Arizona due to hamstring injuries. Ojulari was a limited participant in practice all of last week, while Thomas sat out Wednesday before returning in a limited capacity Thursday and Friday. While both former Georgia Bulldogs were projected as limited participants in all three walkthroughs this week, both were ruled out Wednesday for the matchup in San Francisco.

Inside linebacker Micah McFadden (neck) has also been projected as a limited participant in practice this week, but Daboll said that the second-year player "should be ready to go."

The final player listed on the injury report is second-year wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, who has yet to make his 2023 debut after tearing his ACL last season in Week 11.

Both McFadden and Robinson are listed as questionable for Week 3.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

4. Purdy a 'point guard type of QB'

Quarterback Brock Purdy has played the majority of just eight regular season games for the 49ers dating back to last season. In those eight contests, all of which have resulted in victories, the 23-year-old has put up impressive numbers. Purdy completed 146 of 215 passes (67.9 percent) for 1,734 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions, while earning a passer rating above 110.0 in five of the outings. His lowest passer rating in that span was 88.8.

"He's a great quarterback," Thibodeaux told the media. "I actually played him way back when when he was in college in a bowl game. He's the same guy. He's obviously gotten better, but when you talk about his poise, when you talk about him just being able to deliver the ball and he doesn't really get off balance. He likes to really focus in, and he knows where to get the ball."

With Purdy under center, San Francisco has enjoyed a successful offensive start to the 2023 campaign. The 49ers scored 30 points in each of their first two games (No. 3 in the NFL) as Purdy has thrown for 426 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. His 86.6 QBR is currently the best in the league, due in part to his array of playmakers. Wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk have each recorded 11 receptions on the season, while running back Christian McCaffrey and tight end George Kittle have six apiece.

"They have a really good offense," defensive lineman Leonard Williams said Tuesday. "I mean, it starts with some of their skill players, McCaffrey and Deebo, they do a good job of playing in the backfield and being a wide receiver at the same time. They have a pretty good offensive line, (tackle) Trent Williams is a really good left tackle and I think Purdy's been doing a good job of stepping up as a quarterback. We've been describing him as like a point guard type of quarterback. He gets the ball out quick and knows where to go with it."

5. Shanahan 'an excellent coach'

The 49ers have enjoyed a lot of success under head coach Kyle Shanahan over the last few years. Over the last four seasons, San Francisco has made it to the NFC Championship Game three times, including a trip to Super Bowl LIV. In each of those three seasons, the 49ers have been among the best in the league on both sides of the ball. Daboll praised Shanahan and his football IQ on Tuesday.

"He's done this for a long time," Daboll said about the 49ers' coach. "He has a ton of experience. He has, I'd say, a number of plays that he's run throughout his past and he's always evolving. That's what I appreciate about Kyle. He's a heck of a football coach. He creates, I'd say, a lot of issues, whether that's run force issues, whether that's making plays look exactly the same and setting things up. He's a timely play caller. He's an excellent coach."

While San Francisco has received strong coaching in recent years, let's not understate how good their roster is. The 49ers have numerous All-Pro players on both sides of the ball, led by McCaffrey and defensive end Nick Bosa, two of the top players in the NFL at their respective positions.

"I'd say just on both sides, those two guys are heck of a players, they've got a lot of good players on their team," Daboll said about McCaffrey, Bosa & the rest of the 49ers' roster. "A team full of Pro Bowlers or All-Pros, whether it's McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Aiyuk, Bosa, (defensive lineman Javon) Hargrave, (linebacker Fred) Warner, I mean the list goes on and on. I'd say their team is well constructed. (General Manager) John Lynch has done a great job along with Kyle and there is a lot of challenges with this team in a number of areas."


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