This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Giants matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
49ers LG Mike Iupati vs. Giants DL Robert Ayers
Tale of the tape
Iupati (77): 6 foot 5, 331 pounds, fifth season, Idaho
Ayers (91): 6 foot 3, 275 pounds, sixth season, Tennessee
After a rough beginning to the season, Iupati is coming on strong and is making a case to get a hefty free-agent contract at season’s end. He appears to be completely recovered from the fractured ankle he sustained in the NFC Championship game. Iupati was particularly impressive last week against the New Orleans Saints, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said.
“There were some examples that the hair stood up on the back of my neck watching the tape just at the intensity and the grind he was putting on people,” Roman said of Iupati.
Ayers originally entered the NFL in 2009 as the No. 18 overall pick of the Denver Broncos. He signed a two-year, $3.75 million contract with the Giants in the offseason, and he’s paid dividends with a team-leading four sacks.
Although he’s not a full-time player, Ayers has been effective moving inside to rush the passer on third downs. For a lot of those snaps, he’ll likely be matched up over Iupati, who excels as a run-blocker but can be vulnerable at times in pass protection. The 49ers’ pass protection has been inconsistent this season, so Iupati will have to handle Ayers to provide Colin Kaepernick with enough time to throw on third downs.