The Giants’ struggling run defense needs to step it up against the 49ers

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) is tackled by New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden (41) in the fourth quarter at State Farm Stadium in Glendale
Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants‘ time to celebrate their comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals is short-lived as they face a daunting challenge against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night. The Giants’ defense will have their toughest matchup to date as they are now preparing to face off against 49ers superstar running back Christian McCaffrey.

Slowing down Christian McCaffery is the key to success

McCaffrey is one of the NFL’s most dynamic and versatile running backs. Not only does he excel as a runner, but he also showcases his skills as a receiver, collecting 741 yards out of the backfield in 2022.

With the ability to line up in the slot or even split out wide, McCaffrey presents a significant threat to any defense. In the Giants’ last encounter with McCaffrey in 2022, New York experienced firsthand his ability to make an impact. He managed an impressive 15 carries for 102 yards, while also adding four receptions for 26 yards.

Throughout the first two weeks of the season, McCaffrey has been the focal point of the Niners’ offense. He currently leads the league in rushing yards (268) and has the most 40-yard-plus runs among all running backs. Finding a way to contain McCaffrey will be crucial for the Giants’ defense entering this game.

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The Giants made some additions to their defense

Following the 2022 season where they gave up the sixth most cumulative rushing yards (2,451), the Giants recognized the need to strengthen their running game and made three significant signings.

Bobby Okereke, known for his versatility and ability to disrupt opposing offenses, was acquired to add support to the linebacker corps. A’Shawn Robinson, a proven run-stopper, joined the team to bolster the defensive front and enhance their ability to shut down rushing attacks. Lastly, Rakeem Nunez-Roches adds another experienced presence to the defense, bringing a mix of strength and agility to the team.

These new additions haven’t made a significant impact yet, but they have a chance to make their presence known Thursday night.

The Giants’ run defense is struggling this season

Coming off a game where they allowed Cardinals running back James Conner to total 106 rushing yards and one touchdown on 23 carries, the Giants’ run defense needs to step up. Through two weeks this season, the Giants find themselves at the bottom of the league in points allowed, having given up a staggering 68 points. Their defense has struggled particularly against the run, surrendering 136.5 rushing yards per game, 4.6 yards per carry, and five touchdowns.

Teams have taken advantage of the Giants’ defensive vulnerabilities by heavily relying on the running game. Opponents have run the ball 51.3% of the time against New York. Unfortunately for the Giants, this strategy plays right into the hands of the 49ers who have given McCaffrey 42 carries through two weeks.

This intense matchup with the 49ers will be a crucial test for the Giants’ defense. A strong performance against McCaffrey would provide a much-needed boost of confidence and solidify their defense as a unit capable of competing against top teams. If they can successfully address their defensive struggles, it would serve as a turning point for Big Blue’s season and establish them as a team to be reckoned with for the remainder of this year.