49ers-Giants II -- what's changed


49ers-Giants II -- what's changed

It was 58 degrees and sunny at Candlestick Park when the New York Giants visited the 49ers on Nov. 13. The 49ers won that day, 27-20, sending the Giants on their way into a four-game losing streak.Expect it to be cooler and damper on Sunday when the teams meet again in the NFC Championship Game.And weather won't be the only difference.

--"I think schematically, maybe (the Giants are) doing a little less," 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said. "(They're) playing faster though. I think it's even helped them. They've seemed to be creating more turnovers, playing faster on defense."--Smith played well in that first game, and his confidence has continued to build. After last week's performance against the Saints, the level of his play is at an all-time high. In the first meeting, Smith completed 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Perhaps his best throw was a pass that Michael Crabtree failed to catch in the end zone. He also had some communication issues with then-49ers receiver Braylon Edwards near the goal line. Smith's one interception was on a pass in which he hit Ted Ginn in the hands and deflected to Giants cornerback Corey Webster.--San Francisco running back Frank Gore is at full strength after being a non-factor in the first meeting. He carried just six times for zero yards before exiting the game in the first half with a knee contusion. Kendall Hunter led the 49ers with six carries for 40 yards. The 49ers virtually abandoned the run game. They're likely to be more balanced this time around.
--Giants linebacker Michael Boley, the team's second-leading tackler and their biggest presence in the middle of the field, did not play in the second half of that game after sustaining a hamstring injury.--Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw did not suit up due to a foot injury. Bradshaw leads the Giants with 26 carries for 126 yards in the playoffs. And starting fullback Henry Hynoski did not play. It was one of five games he missed because of a neck injury.--David Diehl, who started at left guard against the 49ers, is now playing left tackle in place of Will Beatty, who's out an eye injury. Kevin Boothe has taken over at left guard. After averaging 3.5 yards per rush as a team in the regular season, they've improved to a 4.6-yard average against Atlanta and Green Bay in their two playoff games.
--Back then, Braylon Edwards opened the game as a starting receiver for the 49ers. Ted Ginn was the No. 3 wideout. Edwards never appeared to get healthy. He has since been released. Ginn's availability for Sunday's game is in doubt with a right knee injury. If Ginn does not play, Kyle Williams would start and Brett Swain would become the No. 3 receiver.--Tight end Delanie Walker was the 49ers' leading receiver with six catches for 69 yards. He has not played since sustaining a fractured jaw on Christmas Eve against the Seattle Seahawks. He returned to practice this week.
--Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks returned after missing a game with a hamstring injury. The 49ers rolled coverage to Nicks' side. He caught two passes for 41 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017


What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season


Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

SANTA CLARA – The two quarterbacks who finish this season with the 49ers are probably going to be the same two quarterbacks the organization carry on their 2018 roster.

So every decision coach Kyle Shanahan makes with C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is being made to consider what is best for those two players.

Shanahan made the expected announcement this week that Beathard will make his fifth consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Beathard is coming off his best game as a pro. He was a major contributor to the 49ers’ first victory of the season, throwing for 288 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for a score in a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. His performance seemingly did enough to earn him another start.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo pulled up to 49ers headquarters on Oct. 31 with no prior knowledge of Shanahan’s offensive system. Even as a rookie, Beathard has five more months of experience in the 49ers’ offense than Garoppolo, a four-year professional who made just two starts during his time with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve had C.J. in there for some time,” Shanahan said. “He’s getting more used to it, and I’m getting more used to him. The players are getting more used to him around him. It’s been nice to add a few things each week for him.”

General manager John Lynch reiterated this week he considers Garoppolo the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Garoppolo is not under contract for next season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension, the club would be expected to designate him as their franchise player to retain him for the 2018 season.

Garoppolo is likely to get some playing time in the final six games of the season, but the 49ers have every reason to take their time in order to give him the best chance at success. On the first three days of the bye week, Garoppolo had a chance to go back to the beginning and learn the basics of the scheme in meetings with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan.

Shanahan’s scheme is complex with unique verbiage and an abundance of adjustments that are required on any given play. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took a step backward in his first season in Shanahan's scheme. The next year, Ryan was a runaway MVP winner with a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.

It took Ryan a full season of experience with Shanahan to fully grasp his responsibilities, so it is unreasonable to believe Garoppolo would be able to do much more than just function if he gets onto the field for extended action.

“Jimmy gets more and more ready each week,” Shanahan said. “Is Jimmy going to be the best he can? To me, that’s impossible. He just hasn’t been here long enough, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to be better each week.

“I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy’s best football, to be fair to him, until next year because that’s what guys need. But C.J. did play his best football last week, which definitely, to me, made the decision easier.”