But as it turns out, Giants quarterback Eli Manning lofted a perfect pass only his 6-foot-6-inch red-zone target could catch to win the game with 21 seconds left.
"I thought I played it pretty good. Great pass, great catch," Bowman said afterwards.
The 49ers took a 27-23 lead with 1:45 remaining when running back Carlos Hyde scored from two yards out. But the 49ers left Manning too much time, and he orchestrated the game-winning drive in just 1:24.
Manning completed three of seven attempts on that final possession. One of those incompletions was an initially ruled an interception to cornerback Tramaine Brock, which would have been his second of the night and likely would have won the game for San Francisco.
But a replay review overturned the ruling, instead calling the pass incomplete. Four plays later, Manning found Donnell for the decisive score.
"When it mattered, we didn’t show up," Brock said.
Donnell said of his high difficulty catch, "Once I had it, I had to hold that thing. The game was on the line and I had to make a play."
"...Eli put it up there and that's where I feel comfortable. And we won the game."
On the night, Manning threw for 441 yards on 41 of 54 completions with three touchdowns to three different receivers. Odell Beckham Jr. scored from 17 yards out in the third quarter, before finishing with seven catches and 121 yards before temporarily leaving the game with a hamstring injury. Running back Shane Vereen caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter, and finished with eight catches on eight targets for 86 yards, including two receptions for 40 yards on the Giants' final drive.
Despite the loss, Bowman remains optimistic about the 49ers' new-look defense going forward.
"I just see this team continuing to get better," Bowman said. "I don’t think anything is out there we should hang out heads about. I think we have a bright future with us being so young and having so much adversity so early in this thing."
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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