EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The NFL is giving the New York Giants a rare chance for a do-over.
A week after their fourth-quarter debacle in Seattle, the reeling Giants (3-6) will get a chance to get things right this time when they face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
The color of the jersey may be different, but Tom Coughlin’s team should know what to expect.
The Niners (5-4) feature an option quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, a strong running back in Frank Gore and one of the NFL’s top defenses.
It’s similar to last week when the cast of characters were Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman and company.
New York stayed with Seattle for three quarters before getting blown out 38-17 in a game in which Seattle rushed for 350 yards and had 510 yards in total offense in handing New York its fourth straight loss.
San Francisco comes east off a big win in New Orleans, when it rallied to tie the game late and won 27-24 in overtime when its defense forced a fumble to set up a game-winning field goal.
“It helps to have another opportunity to line up,” Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. “Opportunities in this league are so short, your career is so short, we want to look at this as an opportunity to go out there and get a win, and that’s the only thing we are focused on right now.”
The Giants are in need of a win. They not only trail Philadelphia (7-2) and Dallas (7-3) in the NFC East, they have losses to Arizona (8-1), Detroit (7-2) and Seattle (6-3) in the event they finish tied at the end of the regular season.
“We have to go out there and get a win before we can worry about any playoffs,” Giants safety Antrel Rolle said. “To me right now, if we go to the playoffs, we do; if we don’t, then we don’t.
“It is just a matter of going out there and playing with pride and going out there and showing ourselves more importantly than anybody else what we are capable of once we go out there and play football the way we are taught to play.”
San Francisco can’t afford a loss either. It is a game behind Green Bay (6-3) and Seattle in the playoff hunt.
The Seahawks pounded the Giants with their running game and the 49ers have the backs to do the same thing this week.
“It’s what we want to do, be balanced,” San Francisco wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. “First of all we want to establish the run. I feel like when we establish the run, everything builds off that.”
Neither coach Jim Harbaugh nor Kaepernick would say whether the Giants gain an advantage by playing similar teams.
“We will find out on Sunday,” Kaepernick said.
Here are some other things to watch Sunday.
Smith’s season debut
Ferocious San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith spent the first nine games of the season watching games with family or friends while serving his nine-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies. He is set to make his season debut Sunday.
Harbaugh wonders how quickly Smith might be able to return to his top form and Coughlin certainly expects to see Smith in key third-down situations.
The 49ers can use his presence in a week they lost defensive leader and linebacker Patrick Willis for the remainder of the season with a toe injury that will require surgery.
The Giants’ running game has been dismal the past four weeks with top running back Rashad Jennings sidelined with a knee injury. Rookie Andre Williams averaged less than 3 yards per carry. Jennings seemingly is going to return this week and New York needs his experience.
One of the Giants biggest offseason moves was to sign guard Geoff Schwartz. He injured a toe in the preseason game against the Jets and has not played yet. He has been practicing and may be ready to go Sunday. If he is, does he return as a starter and who sits? The likely choice is rookie Weston Richburg, who has replaced him at left guard. Schwartz could also replace John Jerry at right guard or Westurg could move to center and replace J.D. Walton, with Schwartz going to left guard.
The Borland kid
The Niners came into the season with a ton of high-profile linebackers — Patrick Willis, Smith, and NaVorro Bowman. The guy grabbing the headlines is rookie Chris Borland. The third-round pick from Wisconsin has 35 tackles in the past two games. “... All the players that you acquire or draft, they have the license and ability to do great things, and he has done that,” Harbaugh said.