(CBSNewYork) — The winless New York Giants enter their Week 3 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers with even more bad news. Star running back Saquon Barkley has been lost for the season with a torn ACL. The injury happened as he was being tackled in early in the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
Former Atlanta Falcon Devonta Freeman has since signed with the Giants on Wednesday. He will split time in the backfield with Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman and could see action against the 49ers. Freeman has seen his production decline in recent years, so how much of an impact he’ll have is unclear. Daniel Jones may have to pick up the slack. He’ll have to do it without wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who also went on injured reserve with a toe injury suffered in that same game.
“The Giants couldn’t run the football anyway,” says CBS San Francisco sports director Dennis O’Donnell. “All eyes are going to be on the young quarterback Daniel Jones. If he can pass the ball, despite the Giants’ porous offensive line, they can beat the 49ers, because the 49ers are decimated.”
Jones has faced two tough defensive matchups to open the season with similar results. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, he went 26-41 for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Against the Bears in Week 2, he completed 25-40 for 241 yards. A healthy San Francisco defense would present another challenge to Jones, who will be without two important weapons. But the San Francisco defense is anything but healthy.
The 49ers played in New York last Sunday as well, handling the Jets in a 31-13 win. After three first-half touchdown drives, they led 21-3 and never looked back. But the win against one of the NFL’s worst teams exacted a big cost. The already banged-up 49ers suffered multiple key injuries that will surely have larger ramifications for the season.
Defensive end Nick Bosa, last year’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and tackle Solomon Thomas left the game in the first quarter with knee injuries. (It has since been confirmed that both suffered torn ACLs that will end their seasons.) Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out after halftime. Running back Raheem Mostert sprained his MCL; RB Tevin Coleman sprained his knee. So many injuries, specifically leg injuries, led coach Kyle Shanahan to question the safety of the new artificial turf at MetLife Stadium.
“The Giants and the 49ers aren’t going to be the teams they thought they were going to be,” says CBS San Francisco sports director Dennis O’Donnell. “Because you can’t replace Saquon Barkley. You can’t replace Nick Bosa. But what I found interesting in the 49ers’ win over the Jets [is] they have a lot of depth. They were prepared for injuries [but] not this many injuries. So when the 49ers take the field on Sunday, this is a possible scenario… no (Jimmy) Garoppolo, no Raheem Mostert, no Tevin Coleman, no Nick Bosa, no Solomon Thomas, no Richard Sherman, possibly no George Kittle. If you take all of those guys out of the lineup, I have to go with the New York Giants.”
The Giants play the 49ers Sunday, September 27 @ 1:00 p.m. ET.