SANTA CLARA, Calif. The Giants were confronted with a tense set of circumstances on Thursday night in Levi’s Stadium.
The team played its second match within five consecutive days along the western coast. They were facing a team that had the longest NFL winning streak in the regular season at 12 games. They also played their home opener following two road wins. A pair of Giants the best players were not playing due to injuries. They began their third offensive line at the beginning of the season.
Even the timing and day conspired against the Giants. The Giants were swept in seven consecutive games on the same day and also 13 of their previous 14 games at prime time.
Despite all of these factors and the significant statistical handicaps, the Giants were able to draw close to three points in the 3rd quarter. However, they were defeated by the San Francisco 49ers scored the game’s final 13 points and defeated the Giants 30-12. The Giants were victorious in Arizona on Sunday, are now 1-2.
“We’re not going to make excuses about any of it,” coach Brian Daboll said.
“We didn’t create a rhythm,” quarterback Daniel Jones said. “We didn’t execute, didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. Certainly, it is a good defense. It’s a good team. When you’re playing good teams, you can’t afford to do that. We didn’t play well enough.”
The numbers prove that. The Giants were a lot less successful in overall yards (441-150) and running yards (141-29) and first downs (26-10) and held the ball for only 20 minutes.
The Giants were with out Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley (sprained ankle); All-Pro left tackle Andrew Thomas, who missed his second straight game due to an injury to his hamstring as well as right guard Ben Bredeson (concussion). Joshua Ezeudu and Shane Lemieux began as left-handed players on the offensive line while Matt Breida replaced Barkley.
Jones finished 22-of 32 pass attempts but the tally of 137 yards. Breida ran to 17 yards. The Giants most prolific receiver is Darius Slayton with 32. The Giants did not manage to catch a few passes which should have been rebuffed for a number of reasons, one of which was thrown by tight linebacker Darren Waller couldn’t corral and was intercepted by Talanoa Hufanga.
“I gotta help out as a teammate and make that play, wherever the ball’s placed,” Waller stated. “So yeah, I felt like it’s something I gotta bring in. … Anytime your hands get on it, you gotta make it.”
“Whenever it’s not going (well), or you feel like you have these opportunities and you miss out of them, it’s always frustrating,” Breida declared. “But you gotta move on to the next play and we’ll be a better team from this.”
The 49ers proved why they played in the two previous NFC championship games, and are among the top teams to repeat their success.
The second-year QB Brock Purdy improved to 10-0 when he begins and ends the game. He threw 2 touchdowns and 310 yards with a nine-yarder for Ronnie Bell and a 27-yarder to Deebo Samuel (129 yards with just six receptions). Christian McCaffrey rushed for 85 yards and scored a touchdown. He added 34 yards from five receptions. The 49ers scored on nine of their 16 third-down chances (56.3 percent).
“That’s a heck of a team,” Daboll declared. “It usually comes down to making plays when you have an opportunity to make plays. They did a good job, give them credit.”
Particularly sour for fans of the Giants is San Francisco’s victory on the third down.
“We didn’t execute, we didn’t tackle, that’s just it,” cornerback Adoree’ Jackson said. “We had them in third and long situations, we were winning first and second down, and we just didn’t tackle and execute.”
The 49ers were in their game during the opening half when they scored 17 point in scoring drives that included 15 and 11 plays. rookie kicker Jake Moody and Giants veteran Graham Gano kicked first possession field goals, and the first quarter ended in a deadlock of 3-3.
The game got out of control in the second quarter, when the pass to Samuel scored 30 yards on third-and-15. the pass from Purdy to McCaffrey gained 17 yards on third-and-13. The conversions allowed Purdy to score a 9 yards touchdown to Bell.
“I think they were seven of nine in the first half (actually 7 of 10),” Daboll told. “And a few of them were screens where they just caught and run. We’ve got to rally the ball out and make tackles. Third down was huge tonight in this game. It was a contributing factor to doubling the time of possession on both sides. When you’re not converting third downs and you’re giving up some third downs, there’s time of possession. Your defense gets tired and we’re not out on the field offensively enough. It’s a collective thing.”
“They just outplayed us on third down and we have to do better with those screens, running to the ball and getting guys down,” defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence said.
After the Giants had a three-and-out game, San Francisco drove 73 yards in 11 minutes and the longest McCaffrey’s four-yard touchdown run in the middle.
Gano finished the scoring of the opening half with a record-setting 57-yard field goal that brought the Giants to 7-6 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Shemar Jean-Charles was penalized for interference with Eric Gray’s fair-catch during a punt, which gave the Giants the ball at the 37-yard line of San Francisco. A penalty of 22 yards for pass interference on Deommodore Lenoir allowed the ball to the eighth and, from the eight, Breida bulled his way to in the final zone. This made it 17-12 however, Jones was kicked off during the conversion attempt of two points and the Giants did not get any closer.
“We came back out in the second half, had a score, went for two to try to cut it to three,” Daboll declared. “Just give them credit. They did a lot of good stuff. That’s a good team.”
The Niners scored 13 points thanks to 2 Moody field goals, as well as Samuel’s touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
The locker rooms afterwards the game, the Giants discovered some positives in the event.
“I think it was frustrating at times, but I felt like we were in the game really until the end and had chances to make plays really until the end,” Jones stated. “I think we stayed confident and believed and we just didn’t do it there down the stretch. I think we did a good job kind of keeping a level head and competing.”
“I think it just shows the heart that we have and the competitive stamina that we have as a unit,” Lawrence stated. “I think we just got to keep going out there and fighting and showing who we are.”