Three things to watch as the Giants host the 49ers - Metro US

Three things to watch as the Giants host the 49ers

Key to victory Sunday will be the Giants ability to control Colin Kaepernick.
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The Giants are back home and that’s a good thing.

Their NFC playoff hopes could be on life-support if they aren’t able to get a home win against the 49ersSunday at 1 p.m.

Away from the Meadowlands, the Giants 3-6 are 1-4, so getting to play San Francisco back on the east coast is a sure advantage.

Eli Manning looks to continue what is turning out to be one of his better seasons. The quarterback has thrown 17 touchdowns to just six interceptions thus far this year. They also will get RashadJennings back to the lineup, an addition of depth that can only help the offense, and help spell Andre Williams in the backfield.

Here are three things Metro will be keeping an eye on Sunday.

Control Kaepernick

​Colin Kaepernick hasn’t looked like his old dynamic-self lately. And the Giants hope he goes at least one more week before that transformation occurs.

Last week, Kaepernick was just 14-for-32 passing, and if not for a 51-yard touchdowntoss to Michael Crabtree late in the game, he’d have been irrelevant in what turned out to be a comeback win over the Saints.

The Giants have 16 takeaways this season, including 13 interceptions, the second most in the NFL. But they also have struggled with ball-possession, losing 10 fumbles in nine games.

The turnover battle will be key in this one. If they Giants can win that, they should be ahead on the scoreboard as well.

The return of Smith

AldonSmith has 47 1/2 sacks in 51 games, including playoffs, and for the first 10 weeks of the NFL season, no one has had to worry about the Pro Bowl linebacker.

But Smith is slated to return after a nine week suspension, and could give the Giants offensive line headaches Sunday.

“A big lift. He’s a freak of nature on the field,” Kaepernick said. “He’s a huge component to our defense, so very happy to have him back.”

Luckily for New York, an injury to Patrick Willis should help ease the burden just a bit.

Bend but don’t break

The Giants defense has by no means been a shut-down operation. In fact, the unit has allowed 405 yards per game played.

Facing the 49ers, there are no lack of weapons that could damage the New York D, with Anquan Boldinlooking revitalized alongside the big-man Crabtree as key wideout options for San Fran. The Giants also must contend with Frank Gore and the always-scrambling Kaepernick in the run game.

Hopefully, the defense can do enough to keep Tom Coughlin’s squad in the hunt for a Wild Card spot

“It doesn’t feel good,” Coughlin said. “There is progress for me. There are a lot of things that you can point to that are good, but we are not finishing the job so that dominates all our thinking. We all know what this league is about. You have to win.”

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