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The Giant Defense


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Smith's shoulder still uncomfortableContra Costa TimesArticle Launched: 10/20/2007 03:03:51 AM PDT


SANTA CLARA -- Instead of facing the New York Giants as he had hoped, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith slipped to No. 3 on the depth chart for Sunday's game. Coach Mike Nolan indicated Friday that Shaun Hill, a sixth-year player who has yet to throw a regular-season NFL pass, will serve as Trent Dilfer's backup against the Giants.


Smith is still not comfortable after suffering a separated shoulder Sept. 30 against the Seattle Seahawks. He was unable to take many snaps during team drills, so Hill took over backup duty.


"It's a matter of reps more than anything," Nolan said of the decision to make Smith No. 3. Hill, out of the University of Maryland, has played in just one career game: On Jan. 1, 2006, he knelt down for a loss of a yard in the Minnesota Vikings' regular-season finale.


The backup quarterback issue is particularly relevant against the Giants, whose ferocious pass rush will come hard at Dilfer, a less-than-fleet veteran.


Over their past four games, New York's defense has tallied 19 sacks and limited opposing quarterbacks to a 59.4 rating. During that span, the Giants are allowing only 13.5 points and 252.8 yards per game -- daunting numbers for a 49ers offense already struggling.


Nolan said the 49ers need more from their ground game to open things up for Dilfer. Running back Frank Gore, for example, is in search of his first 100-yard game, and his production will be crucial in preventing defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan from chasing after Dilfer.


Umenyiora not only leads the NFL with seven sacks, he has 12 knockdowns and 71/2 quarterback hurries.


"The two ends are probably two of the most explosive players as far as pass rush goes," Nolan said. "So we have our work cut out for us as far as protection goes this week.'


Smith, meanwhile, will serve as the emergency third quarterback. That means if he is inserted into the game before the fourth quarter, the 49ers' first two quarterbacks cannot be used in the game at any position.


The rule is sometimes misunderstood: It is a coach's decision as to whether the third quarterback will be used; the active quarterbacks do not have to be injured for a team to use its third quarterback.


Nolan continued to play coy about whether offensive coordinator Jim Hostler will move from the sideline to the coaching booth Sunday, but he dropped enough hints to make the move sound likely. "I think that in the booth you get to play chess more than anywhere else," Nolan said Friday.


The 49ers certainly need something to change. Their average this season of 203.2 yards per game is the 49ers' worst performance through five games since 1970, according to Stats LLC. The previous worst was 215.0 yards in 1977 followed by 218.8 (in 2005) and 260.2 (in 1975).


Revealing TV


The NFL Network last Saturday aired a special showing 49ers coaches behind the scenes during their game against the Baltimore Ravens. Among the revelations was that Paraag Marathe, the director of football operations, spends game days in the coaching booth.


What is a guy with an MBA from Stanford doing hooked up to a headset? Nolan said Friday that Marathe provides statistical information, clarification on controversial rules and helps on replay challenges. "He's always right on it," Nolan said. "He's probably the best I've ever been around."


Extra points


Nolan announced his game captains for Sunday: center Eric Heitmann (offense), linebacker Derek Smith (defense) and long snapper Brian Jennings (special teams). ... 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis leads NFL rookies with 50 tackles. The New York Jets' Darrelle Revis and the Carolina Panthers' Jon Beason are next closest with 42 tackles each. ... The Giants have won eight consecutive games played in October dating back to 2005.


The Giants Defense should have a good day, maybe a career day against the 49ers

they should not be on the field as much and the Giants Offense should be getting tired out from running so many plays. Now I know we will all be happy to see this to come to pass. One thing I hope for more in this game is if we steam roll the 49ers it would be the confidence and momentum the Giants will gain and hope that it rolls over into London.


I also hope this momentum will keep them amped up for Nov11th the week after the bye . historically we have slowed down the week after every bye week. losing about 90% of the games after the bye week.


Granted we have not beat any elite teams "YET". but we need this momentum builder to head into mid season and the last half of the season.

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