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As crazy as it seems, the 49ers should win a game this Sunday.

Not because they’re good or improving. They seem to get a little worse each week.

It’s because they’re playing the New York Giants, almost as bad as the 49ers. The Giants have won only one game this year.

And they’re dysfunctional. They’re falling apart. They’ve gotten outscored by 51 points the past two games. The 49ers, bless their hearts, have gotten outscored by only 33 points the past two weeks.

Here’s why the 49ers should win.

1. The Giants don’t play hard.

Particularly their defense. That unit gave up 51 points last week to the Rams. Giants defenders seemed like they didn’t even want to tackle for long stretches of the game. They looked like they were trying to get their head coach fired. More on that below.

The 49ers defense isn’t particularly good, either, don’t get me wrong. But it plays hard. It hasn’t quit. Two weeks ago, it held the Eagles offense, which is excellent, to just 304 total yards. And last week, the Niners defense gave up only 20 points to the Cardinals.

The 49ers defense has a pattern. Most weeks, it plays well in the first half, then fades in the second half because it gets tired. But that’s not the defense’s fault. That’s the offense’s fault. It can’t stay on the field.

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh deserves credit. He’s in his first season as a defensive coordinator and he’s improving. He seems like a leader. He motivates his players. They respond to him.

Saleh is the best coach on the 49ers’ staff right now. He’s better than Kyle Shanahan, who has struggled during his first season as a head coach and offensive coordinator.

2. The Giants head coach expects to get fired soon.

That’s because he probably will get fired soon. The Giants could fire head coach Ben McAdoo Sunday night if they lose to the 49ers.

McAdoo reportedly has lost his team. Two anonymous players on the Giants said this week the team quit on McAdoo. Said players quit on him during the Rams game last Sunday. “It felt like nobody wanted to be there,” one player said.

The Giants were supposed to be good. They won 11 games last season. They’re the biggest disappointment in the NFL.

Instead of taking the blame for the Giants’ problems, McAdoo is blaming his players. He’s fining them, suspending them, working them on off days and criticizing them publicly. Lashing out.

Kyle Shanahan hasn’t done any of those things. Sure, he hasn’t won a game, but he seems upbeat. He has a six-year contract. Why should he worry?

3. The 49ers will have the best player on the field.

The Giants would have had the best player — wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. — but he’s on IR. And so is the Giants’ No. 2 receiver, Brandon Marshall.

That means the best player will be 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. He has recorded 15 quarterback knockdowns this season, a high number for an interior rusher.

But he has only 1.5 sacks. He usually is one step late when he reaches the quarterback.

That’s not because he’s slow. The 49ers simply don’t have quality edge rushers who force a quarterback to step up in the pocket and into Buckner’s path. Opposing quarterbacks have been hanging back and avoiding Buckner all season.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning shouldn’t be able to avoid Buckner on Sunday. The Giants offensive tackles are so bad, they’ll make the Niners’ edge rushers look like All Pros, and Manning will have to shuffle forward in the pocket, right toward Buckner, who will record one or two sacks.

4. The Giants are even less committed to running the ball than the 49ers.

Considering how poorly both teams protect their quarterbacks, you’d think they’d want to run the ball as much as possible to take pressure off the quarterback.


The 49ers rank 29th out of 32 teams in rushing attempts per game, and the Giants rank 30th.

The difference is the Giants can’t run the ball, while the 49ers simply choose not to. The Giants have scored only two rushing touchdowns all season, and one of them was a run by Manning. Their leading rusher, Orleans Darkwa, has carried the ball only 67 times this season.

The 49ers’ leading rusher, Carlos Hyde, has the seventh-most rushing yards in the NFC this season on 124 carries. He runs hard. And he’s healthy. He’s the best player on the 49ers offense. He should lead the league in carries.

But Hyde has carried the ball just 12 times each of the past two games.

Maybe this will be the week the Niners actually use Hyde as a runner instead of as a receiver or decoy.

5. C.J. Beathard is better than Eli Manning at not fumbling.

Manning is better than Beathard at everything else. Manning is a future Hall of Famer and Beathard is a rookie who’s developing — maybe.

But Manning can’t stay upright because the Giants have a horrible offensive line. Of course, Beathard can’t stay upright, either. The 49ers’ offensive line is just as bad as the Giants’ offensive line.

Sunday’s game could come down to which quarterback doesn’t fumble when he gets hit. Or fumbles fewer times.

Beathard seems to the have a slight edge here. He has fumbled twice through four games, while Manning has fumbled six times through eight games.

Manning will give this game away, and the 49ers, if they’re prepared, will know how to take it.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Pressdemocrat.com. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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