Just shows again that the failure to convert early drives will eventually come up and bite a team. The 6-3 Giants had a chance to get out to a seven-point lead on the first drive, only to settle for a field goal. And when they got into the Red Zone again on their second drive, they settled once more.
And once they took a 13-12 lead in the third quarter, the defense let down.
They're still a game up on Dallas, but the way the Cowboys played in pounding Buffalo 44-7, the Giants should think hard about fixing things before next week's game against the imploding Eagles.
Here's the good and bad to a lost opportunity against the 8-1 49ers.
ELI MANNING: He got off to the best start of his career at 10-for-10. Then he brought them back into the game, within a touchdown, on a fantastic fourth-quarter pass touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks in double coverage. He also converted two fourth downs, the first from his own 25 with an 18-yard completion to a leaping Mario Manningham, the second on a 10-yarder to Victor Cruz on his game-tying bid.
ONSIDE KICK: The Niners' perfectly-executed onsides kick with 5:00 remaining in the first half could have been a devastating blow to the Giants' defense. But they held up well enough to force a David Akers field goal, keeping the San Francisco lead to 9-6. Then, after Manning threw an interception, Corey Webster returned the favor off a throw off Ted Ginn, Jr.'s hands at the Giants 23 to stave off a potential touchdown drive at the end of the half.
FIRST POSSESSIONS: The Giants put together a wonderful 14-play drive on their first possession, but couldn't finish it in the Red Zone, so they settled for a field goal. And then they gave up a 12-play field goal drive to San Francisco on their first possession. Most disturbing about that second one was that Frank Gore ran only twice, with Alex Smith doing all the work in the air with nine passes.
SECOND HALF DEFENSE: It all went down the drain as Alex Smith continued his air mastery. It helped that the pass defense failed to cover Vernon Davis, leaving him open for a 31-yard go-ahead touchdown catch that he punctuated with a leap over Kenny Phillips at the goal line. Then, the run defense let down after Manning's interception deep in Giants territory as Kendall Hunter went through a huge hole for a 17-yard touchdown run.
Derrick Martin: The special teamer had a rough day with three penalties, two acessed, that made the field position game that much harder.
MANNING: He had a fine day overall at 26-of-40 for 311 yards and two touchdowns, as well as a last-gasp bid into the San Francisco Red Zone. But you can't overlook the two interceptions he had, the last being the most critical as it gave the 49ers the ball on the Giants' 17 to set up the ultimate winning touchdown run.
RUN DEFENSE: They spent the whole week worrying about Frank Gore. But the great back barely played, and instead they let Hunter hurt them with 40 yards on six carries.
ALEX SMITH: This guy wasn't supposed to be worth a darned, but he threw it all over the lot. The pass rush didn't put enough pressure on him, and the coverage wasn't nearly good enough to prevent him from going 19-of-30 for 242 yards and a touchdown.