In a thrilling matchup, the San Francisco 49ers managed to secure a hard-fought 30-12 victory over the New York Giants. While the 49ers may not have appeared invincible, they certainly proved their mettle against a battered opponent. Here’s a comprehensive look at both teams’ performances:
San Francisco 49ers: Handling Business Amidst Challenges
Despite facing numerous challenges, the San Francisco 49ers managed to take care of business. It was a far cry from a picture-perfect victory, and the final score might not tell the whole story, but the 49ers got the job done.
Playing on a short week and missing their star receiver Brandon Aiyuk due to a shoulder injury, the Niners had to grind through the game. Meanwhile, the Giants were also dealing with their own set of limitations during their second game of a West Coast swing. However, there’s no reason for the 49ers to apologize for another victory, as they moved to an impressive 3-0 for only the second time in the past 25 years.
Aiyuk’s absence in this game highlighted his value to the Niners. The Giants came into the matchup with a reputation for blitzing more than any other team in the league since the start of 2022. They lived up to that reputation, constantly sending extra rushers after 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.
These blitzes took their toll in the first half, pressuring Purdy and forcing him to make off-target throws. This forced Niners coach Kyle Shanahan to shift his strategy towards more screen passes and quick throws, deviating from his preferred intermediate routes.
This is where Aiyuk’s absence was truly felt. Over the past season, Aiyuk has demonstrated his prowess with 50 catches (tied for 8th in the NFL) for 679 yards (tied for 9th) against man coverage. No one on the Niners consistently beats man coverage as effectively and swiftly as Aiyuk.
In the second half, other key players stepped up to fill the void. Deebo Samuel, with six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown, along with tight end George Kittle, with seven receptions for 90 yards, helped pick up the slack. Additionally, the Niners’ defense dominated the Giants, ensuring a well-rounded performance.
To be fair, the 49ers made the right call by resting Aiyuk for this game, with an eye on signing him to a contract extension in the offseason and ensuring his long-term health. However, his absence underscored just how much he is valued for the remainder of this season and beyond.
Quarterback Breakdown: Purdy’s Night
Despite constant pressure from the Giants’ blitz, Purdy had a peculiar night, but his final statistics were impressive. Purdy completed 25 of 37 passes for 310 yards, with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 111.3. He did put the ball in jeopardy a few times in the first half but managed to avoid turnovers. Notably, he excelled on third down and came through late in the game.
While it may not have been his best performance, Purdy now joins an elite group of quarterbacks, starting a career with at least eight consecutive regular-season wins in the Super Bowl Era (since 1966).
Purdy faced an onslaught of blitzes on 74% of his dropbacks, marking the highest blitz rate for a QB with 30 dropbacks since Colin Kaepernick in 2013 (88% against the Cardinals). The 29 blitzes Purdy faced were more than double his previous high of 14. His 236 passing yards against the blitz were the most by a passer since Aaron Rodgers achieved the feat in 2021.
Notable Concern: Penalties Continue to Plague the Niners
The 49ers entered the game tied for the fifth-most penalties in the league and did little to address this issue against the Giants. They finished with six penalties, totaling 71 yards, including two infractions for 37 yards that set up the Giants’ first touchdown of the game.
Impressive Stat: McCaffrey’s Scoring Streak
After scoring on a four-yard run in the first half, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey extended his touchdown streak to an impressive 12 consecutive games, including playoffs. This achievement ties him with Jerry Rice for the longest such streak in franchise history. The record for the most consecutive games with a touchdown, including playoffs, stands at 17, held by Lenny Moore.
New York Giants: A Gritty Performance Despite Challenges
In contrast to their 40-0 opening loss to Dallas, the New York Giants put up a fight against the 49ers, keeping the game within reach until the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, they couldn’t overcome the more talented 49ers, especially with a few unfavorable bounces and questionable calls going against them. Nevertheless, it was far from a lackluster effort on their part.
The Giants entered the game with several key starters sidelined, including running back Saquon Barkley, left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Ben Bredeson, and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari. Winning on the road in prime time without these crucial players was always going to be an uphill battle, and the Giants knew it.
Looking ahead, the Giants now face a crucial game on Monday, October 2, against the Seattle Seahawks. This matchup was likely circled on their calendar as a must-win game from the start. It remains pivotal for their prospects of surviving the challenging early portion of their schedule. Despite their loss to the 49ers, splitting their West Coast trip, with a win against Arizona and a loss in San Francisco, leaves them in a reasonably strong position.
Key Play: The Game-Changing Penalty
A pivotal moment in the game was the roughing-the-passer penalty on Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams with 1:51 left in the second quarter. At that point, the 49ers faced a third-and-12 while leading 10-3, positioned at the Giants’ 20-yard line with just under two minutes remaining in the half. Williams managed to beat his man and reach Purdy just as the ball was released. The penalty was likely called because Williams landed on Purdy with all his weight, altering the course of the game. As a result, the 49ers gained a first-and-goal opportunity instead of a fourth down, and McCaffrey capitalized with a six-yard touchdown run, extending their lead to 17-3.
Bold Prediction for the Next Game
Looking ahead to their next game on Monday night, there’s hope that running back Saquon Barkley, who has been dealing with a high ankle sprain, will have had ample time to recover. However, it’s unlikely that he will be fully ready to play. Barkley has a history of pushing to return sooner than expected, but for his and the team’s best interests, ensuring his complete recovery before returning to action remains crucial.
Notable Stat: A Rare Conversion
A remarkable statistical highlight from the game was the 49ers converting a third-and-15 and third-and-13 on-screen passes during the same drive in the second quarter. The drive culminated with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ronnie Bell, extending the Niners’ lead to 10-3. It’s worth noting that in the first two weeks of the season, there were 25 screen passes attempted on third-and-10 or longer, with only one successful conversion—until Thursday night’s game.
In conclusion, the San Francisco 49ers showcased their resilience and secured a notable victory, while the New York Giants put up a commendable fight despite missing key players. Both teams now look ahead to their upcoming challenges in what promises to be an eventful season.