Last year, the Giants were dead last rushing the football. We wondered out loud if they would ever get anywhere near the days of Earth, Wind and Fire when they averaged a lofty fiver yards per carry.
They are currently averaging 4.8 YPC thanks to a healthier Ahmad Bradshaw and group of capable backups in rookie David Wilson and journeyman Andre Brown. Last week, against Cleveland, Bradshaw carried the ball 30 times for 200 yards.
Bradshaw is stoked and wants to build off his strong showing. Gilbride was asked what if Bradshaw has to carry the ball 30 times again this week.
"I’m sure he’d be the happiest guy on the football field," the coach said. And he would be. Bradshaw has been hobbled by so many different ailments the past few years, he's been chomping at the bit to prove that he's far from finished.
"I feel like as many times as I can touch the ball is as many times I can make a lot of different plays and get a lot of yards, so I don’t mind touching the ball at all that many times," Bradshaw said yesterday.
There's no doubting his toughness, but he will need a No. 2 on Sunday vs the ferocious Niner defense. That won't be Brown, who is still feeling the effects from a concussion he sustained last week. With Wilson still a little green, could second-year RB Da'Rel Scott be the guy?
"It’s possible. Whoever is up, I’ll see," said Gilbride. "I never know until Friday what our thoughts are in that regard based on the injury factor in a lot of positions, not just offensively. Each coach tries to put the best 46 out there. I don’t know, but if they’re there, the good thing is, he’s familiar enough with what we’re doing and what we expect from him that he could go in and contribute."
For Wilson, who had a 40-yard TD run last week to play a substantial amount of reps, he still has to shore up his game in a few areas for him to be completely trusted.
"We’re trying to expand his role as fast as we can as you guys know, but it’s a process, so we take it one day at a time," Gilbride confided.
The 49ers are second in the league in overall defense and have only surrendered ten points over the their last ten quarters of play. How does Gilbride plan to run on such a staunch defense?
"There’s a lot of jocular answers are coming to mind, it’s hard because again, you have great players, and they’re not gambling, taking a lot of risks. They line up, they do a terrific job of trying to knock you back and because of their ability and strength inside, those two defensive ends and nose (tackle) they have are big, huge, powerful men. They make it hard. Their linebackers are as good as you face in the game. You add two safeties who are as physical as anybody in the game and you have a great nine out of 11, in terms of their strength in what they do in defending the run. When they get you in enough long-yardage situations then they can pin their ears back. The whole flavor of the defense changes. Rather than being very run-conscious and physical and sliding along and reacting very effectively to your blocking schemes, now all of a sudden they just pin their ears back. You have to do something to stay in a down and distance rhythm that you give your guys a chance on third down, or it can be a long day."