This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Giants matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX-TV), at Candlestick Park.
Matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Kevin Boothe
49ers LT Joe Staley vs. Giants RDE Jason Pierre-PaulTale of the tape
Staley (74): 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, sixth season, Central Michigan
Pierre-Paul (90): 6-foot-5, 278 pounds, third season, South FloridaThe key to the New York Giants' defense is their ability to pressure the quarterback with a four-man rush. And their four-man rush is unlike any other in the NFL."Sometimes they'll get into sets where they have four defensive ends in there," 49ers guard Alex Boone said. "And that makes it kind of interesting. Normally, you'll have two bigger guys in the middle. They can put four defensive ends down and pin their ears back and go straight ahead."Left tackle Joe Staley figures to have the biggest challenge ahead of him. He will alternately face challenges from two dangerous pass-rushers. Staley will mostly be up against first-team All-Pro Jason Pierre-Paul, who recorded 16.5 sacks last season. Staley will also see plenty of snaps against two-time Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora. Staley has already gone up against Green Bay's Clay Matthews and Minnesota's Jared Allen this season, so he is no stranger to facing challenges. Staley has surrendered five sacks, according to Pro Football Focus, but still grades out as the No. 2 left tackle in the NFL through five games. His strength has been superior run-blocking.The 49ers will try to slow down the Giants' pass rush with a strong running game on Sunday. But, even in that phase, Staley will have his hands full against Pierre-Paul."Jason Pierre-Paul is a rare player and he has incredibly great length, strength, and for a man his size and length, he can bend extremely well," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "So he can play with leverage. A lot of times, guys that big can't bend necessarily and play low."Pierre-Paul is a force against the run and against the pass."The 49ers are coming off a game in which they rolled up 621 yards of total offense in a 45-3 rout of the Buffalo Bills. It was the first game that quarterback Alex Smith was not sacked this season. It'll be a much-bigger chore to keep Smith's jersey clean on Sunday.
Staley and the Pierre-PaulUmenyiora combination played to a virtual draw in two games last season. Staley's initial protection was typically solid, but Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul combined for 1.5 sacks on plays in which Smith held the ball longer than designed.