After watching his team finish 30th in the league in yards per rushing attempt in each of the past two season New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has made it plain that he wants to see the Giants run the football better in 2015.
One way the Giants could try to do that is by pursuing one of the best run-blocking guards in all of football when free agency open next month -- Mike Iupati of the San Francisco 49ers.
Iupati, who turns 28 in May, is five-year veteran left guard who has been named to the Pro Bowl three times and was All Pro in 2012. Despite, David Fucillo of SB Nation's Niners Nation said he would be "pretty stunned" if the 49ers were to re-sign Iupati.
"The team has some cap space, but with Colin Kaepernick's contract only increasing in value, they have to pick and choose where they are going to invest bigger dollars," Fucillo said. "Interior offensive linemen do not seem like the guys with with they will do this. The 49ers have some options to replace Iupati, and I fully expect them to use those."
Iupati's run blocking could certainly help the Giants -- or any team.
In 2014, he was +18.5 in run blocking, second-best among NFL guards. In 2013, Iupati was +9.4. In 2012, +22.6 (second in among guards). In 2011, his +13.1 run blocking score was fourth among guards. In his rookie season of 2010, Iupati's +16.6 run blocking grade was fifth among guards.
"Iupati is a fantastic run blocker. He is a mountain of a man who can handle the proverbial road grading required for run blocking," Fucillo said. "If you are looking to boost the run game, he is a quality addition. However, he has never been a particularly good pass blocker. I don't know if it is poor coaching or what, but it is his primary weakness."
Ah, that pass blocking. Iupati graded at -7.5 in pass blocking last season, allowing an abominable seven sacks from his left guard spot. In his five-year career he has never scored a positive grade in pass blocking, a -0.1 in 2011 the only time he got close.
Despite his run blocking, can you give Iupati a rich free-agent contract if he would struggle to fulfill the primary requirement of any Giants blocker -- keeping the very stationary Eli Manning in one piece?
There is one other thing to consider. Fucillo wonders if the wear and tear of the NFL is beginning to get to Iupati.
"Iupati played every game his first three seasons, but he missed four games in 2013 and one game plus bits of others in 2014. I don't think he qualifies as injury prone, but at times he does seem a bit worn down," Fucillo said. "He walks like an older guy who has taken a lot of hits. I don't think he's going to be out of the league anytime soon, but keep an eye out for the injuries."
Your thoughts, Giants fans? Is Iupati a player you would like to see the Giants pursue in free agency?