No. 2: Eli Manning, New York Giants
The 49ers host the New York Giants in Week 10, and this is probably a contest the Niners have no business winning.
New York could easily run away with the NFC East, and one of the primary reasons is because of its defense. This is a legit unit, perfectly capable of shutting down everything San Francisco can do on the offensive side of the ball.
Yet one of the bigger storylines to watch here is how the Niners contend with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.
Engineering those two Giants players’ impact this season is, of course, quarterback Eli Manning.
At 36 years old, Manning’s effective days in the NFL are numbered. Until proven otherwise, though, he’s one of the better signal-callers in the league right now.
If there is some hope, historically speaking, the 49ers have held him to a 79.4 passer rating over his career — the lowest among any of Manning’s opponents in the NFC West.
Why It’s Difficult for the 49ers
San Francisco is hurting for effective man-on-man cornerbacks. Outside of No. 1 corner Rashard Robinson, the Niners haven’t exactly established someone to take over on the opposite end of the field.
And even Robinson looked shaky in the preseason.
This presents all kinds of problems covering receivers like Beckham and Marshall, who could have big days in Week 10, further padding Manning’s stats against San Francisco.