Not having to prepare for Saquon Barkley must be a reprieve for a banged-up San Francisco 49ers defense.
Coach Kyle Shanahan, however, isn't getting overconfident. He has too much respect for newly-signed Giants running back Devonta Freeman.
"They're getting a hell of a player and a hell of a guy," Shanahan said in a conference call with NY media. "I love (Freeman), hell of a pickup for you guys at this time of year. He's a really good runner, he's really good out of the backfield as a receiver and a great teammate to have around."
Shanahan is acutely aware of Freeman's ability, having been the RB's offensive coordinator for two seasons in Atlanta. That was four years ago. In the life of a running back, it might as well have been a decade.
The Giants hope Freeman will bring at least some of what he had during his heyday in Atlanta with Shanahan to New York. Sans Barkley, Freeman is in line to do some early-down work alongside Dion Lewis.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Thursday that the breakdown of Freeman's one-year deal in New York includes $1.07 million in base salary (prorated to $944,118), $280,000 in per-game active bonuses, $1.15 million in rush yard/TD incentives, a $250,000 Pro Bowl bonus, and a $250,000 first-team All-Pro bonus.
Freeman has a golden chance to earn a lot of carries in the Giants' backfield. Given that it's his first week in Jason Garrett's offense, Freeman might not have a massive workload against his former coach on Sunday. But if Freeman shows he's still got juice left in his legs, he should see sizable usage in the coming weeks.