Giants’ DC Perry Fewell’s defense will face the ultimate challenge this weekend in San Francisco with the balanced offense of the 49ers. They come at you from all angles with all sorts of formations and personnel packages. Fewell has a few wrinkles of his own. The Giants have something they haven’t had for awhile here: speed at LB. They aim to cut off RB Frank Gore’s rushing lanes and run stride-for-stride with TE Vernon Davis. Fewell met with the media after practice Thursday.
Any changes to get the defensive line some sacks and quarterback hits?
They’ll get sacks, they’ll get hits. I have a lot of confidence in those guys. They’ll play, they’ll be fine.
Thoughts on the play of DTs Markus Kuhn and Marvin Austin?
I thought Markus Kuhn performed pretty well. I think Marvin is still a work in progress. He still needs a lot of work; he still needs a lot of reps. The talent is there.
Most of the league’s teams are pass-first now. Are the 49ers a different breed?
Very different. They present you a lot of different runs and blocking schemes, a lot of different personnel groups with the formations and adjustments. They are a little bit unique in what they do.
What does Keith Rivers give you coming back?
Obviously more depth, more speed. We’ll try to utilize his speed as much as we possibly can.
With Rivers, Jacquian Williams and Michael Boley, do you have linebackers now who can stop the run and also defend TE Vernon Davis?
Definitely feel like we can matchup speed-wise. We just have to, as we’ve introduced Keith back into the lineup, how much can he just get out there and really give us? We’ll continue to work with him, but we’ll definitely utilize his speed out there on the field.
Jacquian matched up with Vernon Davis last year?
Yes, he did. We feel good about that matchup. No doubt.
That’s a very good matchup:
Yes it is, because he is a very good player. He has lots of speed, probably one of the fastest guys on the field. We like the speed that we have at linebacker.
What do you think needs to be changed immediately at linebacker?
I think last week, and in some of the other ball games, last week was a product of tackling. We had a number of missed tackles in the game that we have to improve on. Just discipline in our other ball games. The ball would leak out and bounce outside of us, etc. Tackling and just discipline in our gaps.
You’ve expressed confidence in the guys up front to get sacks, is it just a challenge to them, or is it trying to find ways to help them?
You know what, the way the offenses are attacking us right now, sometimes that limits their opportunities. The ball does come out pretty quick on us. The way people are playing us, it doesn’t matter. We give them a number of opportunities to do what they do best. Obviously yes, we have to figure out and make the game more one dimensional. If we do a better job in the run game, we can help them by letting them do what they do best.
When teams do that, they have to give up something?
Is your defense taking enough advantage?
If we stop the run, we’ll take advantage of it. We can’t allow people to run the football and dictate what they want to do to us. We have to dictate what they can do to us.
What’s it like preparing for them now that they have a wildcat formation?
They’ve always been difficult to prepare for, so it’s no different. We spend a number of hours just looking at the different personnel packages that they have. The different things that they do. I think they’ve improved their football team from January, and they’re playing at a very high level right now. With a quarterback coming in like (Colin) Kaepernick, they ran a little bit of the option against us in the (NFC) Championship Game, so they’ve expanded that a little bit more. Again, we have to prepare for that part. They keep adding things that you have to prepare for, so they become more difficult to defend.