Programming note: Jim Harbaugh is scheduled to address the media at 12:10 p.m. this afternoon. Watch the live stream right here.
SANTA CLARA – Two of the key players in the middle of the 49ers’ defense will not be there Sunday against the New York Giants.
Even though the teams did not play last season, the Giants know the 49ers well from facing off twice in 2011 and once more in 2012.
This time, they do not have to account for Pro Bowl inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
“You see some different players and they’ve had some injuries at inside linebacker position with Bowman and Patrick playing at such a high level for these past years,” Giants quarterback Eli Manning said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “But the guys seem to be playing well. They’re still making plays and being efficient on defense.”
Michael Wilhoite has started every game this season with Bowman rehabbing from a knee injury he sustained in the NFC Championship game. Rookie Chris Borland will make his fourth consecutive start, as he takes over for Willis, who will require season-ending toe surgery.
“I think those two inside linebackers have done a very, very good job,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “They’ve played solid, solid defensive football. They’re well-coached.
“You’re talking about the second (ranked) defense in the league despite things that happen in our league. You like to think that your team is going to stay together, but many, many times it doesn’t.”
Borland has been the biggest revelation in recent weeks. The third-round draft pick from Wisconsin has recorded a combined 35 tackles in games the past two weeks against the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints.
On Sunday, his fumble recovery in overtime led to the winning points in overtime in New Orleans.
“Yeah, he seems to be around the ball and making a lot of tackles and a lot of plays,” Manning said. “(It) seems like guys have filled in well and playing at a high level.”