Knee injury has limited Baas in practice this week
David Baas has already written a cheat sheet for the New York Giants' offensive line for Sunday's showdown against the San Francisco 49ers – and it's comprehensive. While he wouldn't let anyone look at it or discuss it in detail after practice this week, Baas said there is enough on the handout to help the Giants and their inconsistent line against the Niners and their NFL-best run defense.
Looking at San Francisco's 3-4 defensive front of Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga and Justin Smith, Baas' sheet tells teammates who has the best rip move, the best bull rush and who likes to hold and where they like to grab.
It tells the Giants' linemen how the San Francisco line will play, allowing linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis to flow to the ball.
It's a full six years' worth of notes from his days with the Niners, and Baas is anxious to share his knowledge for one of the NFL’s top games this weekend when the 6-2 Giants – leaders of the NFC East – travel to play San Francisco, runaway leader of the NFC West with a 7-1 record and six-game winning streak.
“I'll just teach the guys as much as I can about how they rush and what type of moves they have and how they will react to something,'' Baas said. ''That's all I can do and we just have to be ready.''
The biggest question for Baas is whether he'll be ready for the game he has been looking forward to since signing with the Giants as a free agent this summer.
Baas left the Bay Area after six seasons with the 49ers. It was nothing personal. New Niners coach Jim Harbaugh had asked his fellow Michigan alum to stay but Baas felt there was a better opportunity for him and his family at the Meadowlands.
Baas was thought to be one of San Francisco’s top priorities in free agency, but he has not been missed by the team that selected him with the No. 33 overall pick of the 2005 draft.
The 49ers signed former Pro Bowler Jonathan Goodwin in August to handle their center duties, and Goodwin has been solid as the veteran of a young unit that has displayed considerable progress during the course of the season.
Baas was on hand for player-organized 49ers workouts during the NFL lockout in June, and later talked to former teammates and fellow offensive linemen Joe Staley, Alex Boone and Adam Snyder after leaving. But their conversations have been limited since the season started.
''I have been just so busy with everything here, not just football, everything,'' he said. ''That's the last thing on my mind, just to chat it up.''
While excited at the thought of returning to San Francisco, Baas is somewhat of a question mark after missing last week's thrilling 24-20 win over the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., because of a knee injury.
It marked the second game this season that Baas was sidelined. He started every game in his final two seasons in San Francisco and now has been sidelined with a burner against Seattle on Oct. 10 and the knee injury this past weekend. He was limited in practice with the Giants on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Baas isn't happy about the injuries.
''I never missed games,'' he said. ''I was always able to bounce back, so this is frustrating. I came here with a goal in mind and knew why they brought me here. Nobody likes to get injured. But I didn't expect to have someone thrown at my knee or get my facemask grabbed and all that stuff. It's football.''
Baas has been a major part of the reshuffling of the Giants' offensive line this season. The team cut veteran center Shaun O'Hara and guard Rich Seubert before the start of training camp. It moved left tackle David Diehl to left guard, signed Baas and gave third-year tackle Will Beatty the left tackle position with Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie staying at right guard and right tackle, respectively.
The line has been outstanding in pass protection and Eli Manning is averaging almost 283 yards passing. The run game has struggled, averaging 88.8 yards and only producing one individual 100-yard rushing game.
''I think it is going to be great,'' Baas said of the contest. ''I am really glad for them, for their success just because of the things we went through out there. That doesn't mean that I will sit here in awe of them. We're a good football team, too, and we have a job to do. They are a very good defense and always have been. They had that streak of no 100-yard rushers. They do their stuff well. They are hard workers and it will be a challenge.''
Kevin Boothe, who started last week, has handled in practice this week what Baas could not.
''It's definitely an improvement,'' Baas said of his knee. ''I just have to keep working at it. I can't say it feels like a normal knee. To be out there practicing is good. I just have to make sure I do everything I can to keep the progress going.''