From Isaiah Wilson to Darqueze Dennard, the New York Giants have said goodbye to their fair share of former first-rounders in recent weeks — each of whom was marred by varying degrees of controversy. On January 4, one of those players found a new home.
While Wilson’s NFL future remains murky at best, Dennard has earned himself yet another contract, signing with the San Francisco 49ers. Dennard will initially kick off his Niners tenure on the team’s practice squad. Yet, don’t be surprised if — similar to his week-long Giants career — the veteran is quickly called up to the active roster for gameday. The 49ers placed three defensive backs (Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams and safety Jimmie Ward) on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, January 3, meaning San Francisco could be extremely thin in the secondary come Sunday’s regular-season finale against the high-powered Los Angeles Rams.
Dennard Was Released By Giants After Twitter Hate
To say Dennard’s time in East Rutherford was short-lived would be an understatement. His time with the G-Men was a blip on the radar, logging all of 14 snaps. Yet, he still managed — for at least a moment — to be the bane of Giants fans’ existence.
In the third quarter of the Giants’ Week 16 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Dennard was serving as a gunner on special teams where he appeared to make no effort in downing a punt. As seen in the clip shared by Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants, Dennard watched the football bounce in the endzone as his teammates shot him scathing looks, tossing their arms up in outrage.
Turns out, Dennard actually did the right thing. The former Michigan State standout stepped out of bounds on the play, meaning had he been the first player to touch the football, the play would have resulted in an automatic touchback. Instead, Dennard opted to back off allowing his teammates the opportunity to possibly down the football. This was later confirmed by head coach Joe Judge to reporters the following day.
Kudos to Skinner, who acknowledged the situation shortly after his initial tweet. However, as we previously highlighted on December 28, the majority of the internet wasn’t as kind — at least in the moment. Here’s a handful of the damning tweets send Dennard’s way:
“Darqueze Dennard just gave up on the play. Allowed the ball to bounce into the end zone. Giants players were all coming up to him after the punt asking ‘WTF!?!?.’ I’m guessing of course,” tweeted ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.
New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard chimed in, demanding the Giants “Cut Darqueze Dennard tomorrow. What the hell was that.”
“Darqueze Dennard has a front-row seat to that punt bouncing into endzone,” Newsday’s Tom Rock tweeted.
“Thanks for coming out Darqueze Dennard. What was that, just letting the ball roll into the end zone for a touchback?” Dan Duggan of The Athletic questioned.
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Dennard Called Out By Special Teams Coach
While coach Judge did back Dennard’s actions towards the latter end of the play, it was Dennard’s inability to stay in bounds that put him in that situation. One that Giants special teams coach Thomas McGaughey was vocally displeased with when speaking with the media on December 30.
“He just can’t go out of bounds,” McGaughey said of Dennard. “Yeah, it’s a single, it’s a single block, you can’t go out of bounds. That’s the cardinal rule of plus-area play for gunners. When you’ve got a single block, you can’t go out of bounds. You can’t get pushed out of bounds and you can’t run out of bounds.”
For what it’s worth, Dennard was the No. 24 overall pick back in 2014, a former Jim Thorpe Award recipient and a player with 30 career starts under his belt. Special teams isn’t exactly his forte, as he’s logged no more than 88 special teams snaps in any season since 2017. With that said, if he wants to continue to extend his career, he may want to become well versed in the facet. At 30 years old, Dennard is now with the fourth team of the season.