Grant Cohn: Why 49ers will win on Monday night

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Judging just by speed, quickness, agility, balance, change of direction, strength, power, general talent and experience, the New York Giants should cream the 49ers Monday night.

The 49ers are inferior on all those fronts.

But the 49ers will win. Forget the standard metrics. These will be the five determining factors in the 49ers favor:

1. Pat Shurmur Disease.

Shurmur, the Giants’ head coach, is their main problem. The primary reason their record is 1-7. He is the plague in the Giants’ organization.

The Giants have better skill players on offense than almost every NFL team, including the 49ers. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is better than Marquise Goodwin. Running back Saquon Barkley is better than Matt Breida. The only 49ers skill player who could start for the Giants is tight end George Kittle.

But the 49ers average 23 points per game, and the Giants average only 18.8. The Giants are one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL. They rank dead last in rushing attempts even though Barkley is averaging a whopping 4.7 yards per carry. Shurmur doesn’t know how to use the talent on his roster.

Shurmur is an incompetent head coach. Before the Giants signed him this offseason, he coached the Cleveland Browns from 2011 to 2012, and infected that organization, too. His record was 9-23. During games, he sometimes couldn’t even call plays, according to a well-placed source who requested anonymity. Shurmur would freeze with the clock winding down. He was petrified.

Now, the Giants reflect his weakness and self-doubt.

The Giants will make the 49ers look like the 1981-1982 Niners. And Shurmur will make Kyle Shanahan look like Bill Walsh.

2. Mike Solari Withdrawal Syndrome.

Solari is one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. He worked for the Giants from 2016 to 2017, and was the 49ers’ offensive line coach from 2010 to 2014.

After last season, he fled the Giants for the Seattle Seahawks, whose offensive line is good for the first time in years. All because of Solari. And the Giants’ offensive line is terrible without him. It is on pace to allow 62 sacks this season.

During the offseason, the Giants gave a four-year, $62 million contract to left tackle Nate Solder, who had protected Tom Brady’s blindside in New England since 2012. The Giants also gave guard Patrick Omameh a three-year, $15 million contract. And they drafted guard Will Hernandez in the second round.

Solder and Hernandez have been awful, and Omameh has been even worse. The Giants cut him Saturday morning. They miss Solari big time. He makes bad offensive linemen play well. He also makes good offensive linemen play well.

The 49ers will prey on the Giants’ terrible offensive line. DeForest Buckner, Cassius Marsh, Dekoda Watson and Ronald Blair all will have monster games.

3. Jim Everett Syndrome.

Everett was the Los Angeles Rams quarterback who infamously sacked himself during the 1990 NFC Championship Game against the 49ers. He had taken so many hits, he sensed pressure that didn’t exist. He had sack trauma. Was no longer functional as a quarterback.

C.J. Beathard had Jim Everett Syndrome before Nick Mullens took his job.

Eli Manning has Jim Everett Syndrome, too. And he will play Monday.

Manning seems shellshocked. He looks for places to hide and fall down. Opposing teams smell his fear — he gives off that odor. They pounce on him like he’s a wounded animal.

Manning has no improvisational skill. He moves like Frankenstein’s monster — one slow step at a time. The 49ers know where he will set up in the pocket all game, so they can rush to a spot feeling certain he’ll be there. The Giants don’t roll Manning out of the pocket, because he doesn’t throw well on the move.

He should have retired after last season. The 49ers will make him wish he did.

4. Confidence.

The 49ers have it. The Giants don’t.

The 49ers won last week. The Giants haven’t won since Sept. 23. Their season is over. Now, they have to fly from New York to San Jose. You can bet they don’t want to make the trip or play the game.

Of course, they don’t want to embarrass themselves on national television, either. But, they’re a mental train wreck. They’ll play hard for the first 10 minutes. And if they’re still in the game after 10 minutes, they’ll hang tough. But if they’re down two scores, they’ll quit.

The 49ers should put the Giants out of their misery fast. Punch them in the mouth as soon as possible. Remind them just how much they want to go home.

5. Mullens Magic.

Beathard was taking the 49ers down with him.

He committed 10 turnovers and lost all five of his starts. Shanahan still wouldn’t bench him. Shanahan made excuses for Beathard. Blamed the rest of the team for Beathard’s mistakes.

Every day, the players watched Beathard and Mullens practice side by side. They surely knew which quarterback was better. Players always know. Shanahan killed his team’s excitement and will to compete by refusing to make the switch from Beathard to Mullens.

Finally, Mullens got a chance to start last week against the Oakland Raiders, because Beathard hurt his throwing hand. Otherwise, Shanahan would have stuck with Beathard. The week of the game, players throughout the locker room predicted Mullens would perform well.

“I think he is a baller,” Breida said. “He doesn’t let the game get too big for him. I think he is going to do a great job if he has to play this week.”

Breida was right. Mullens statistically had the best debut ever by a quarterback. His passer rating was 151.9. In Beathard’s best game, he never played as well as Mullens that night.

Mullens could be special. The players want to find out. He gives them a reason to play hard.

Granted, Mullens played the Raiders, who have the worst pass rush in the NFL. They never sacked Mullens. But the Giants have the second-worst pass rush in the NFL. They have recorded only 10 sacks all season. Mullens could finish the game with the cleanest uniform in history.

The 49ers will win 17-12. The Giants won’t stop the Mullens Magic.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers and Bay Area sports for The Press Democrat and in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at

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