- The 49ers QB surprised everyone against the Raiders on Thursday night last week. Can he keep it going against a Giants’ defense starting mostly undrafted rookies and fringe veterans?
Three things to know ahead of Giants-49ers on Monday Night Football...
1. The giddy reactions to Nick Mullens’s prolific debut game are understandable, but last Thursday against Oakland, the undrafted second-year QB was mostly a facilitator in a masterfully designed offense that was facing a sad Raiders defense. This isn’t to say Mullens can’t shine again. This week he gets a Giants defense that is now playing a bevy of undrafted rookies and handful of fringe veterans. But right now, the jury has barely begun deliberations on Mullens. Evidence that bodes well for him, though, is his compact throwing motion and quick release.
2. Eli Manning has not played well from the pocket with bodies around him, but the bigger problem is how often he’s had to. You can’t completely write-off the 37-year-old QB until he gets more help from his offensive line. This week, that struggling line faces a 49ers front four that has been impotent for much of the season but has looked better as of late.
3. With these teams having just three wins between them, there’s plenty of negativity to harp on, especially with the defenses. Let’s instead cast a light on some positives. For the Giants, its safety Landon Collins, who remains one of the league’s best playmakers, especially in scenarios where the design leaves him unblocked. Collins has also built on the growth he showed last season as a man-to-man defender. We’ll see it tested this week, as he faces rising start tight end George Kittle. For the Niners, it’s Richard Sherman. The longtime Seahawk might not be quite as smooth as a transitional mover these days, but he’s still able to act on his keen sense for timing and angles.
Bold prediction: Nick Mullens will throw for over 350 yards, thanks in part to a long gain by Kittle, who has become one of football’s better run-after-catch tight ends.