If the Giants could rely on one thing this year, it was the efficient play of Eli Manning. This game felt like reliving a nightmare of last year, with Manning throwing five interceptions and several in scoring positions. There were miscommunications, soaring overthrows, and plenty of forced throws due to consistent pressure. The first drive brought a touchdown and some quality strikes, but the rest of the game was otherwise disastrous. There were some bright spots in the form of some big grabs from Donnell, Beckham and Randle, but Manning was way off today and it started with a fundamental failure to give him a clean pocket.
The return of Rashad Jennings brought hope that the Giants would find their running game again, but the 49ers were the consistent winners of this matchup up front. In the sad state of the Giants running game even 3.3 yards-per-carry seems like a marked improvement, but in the grand scheme of things is still far off a successful day. The Giants stuck with the passing game with just 21 rushes by the stable of backs, and could have afforded to utilize Jennings more nonetheless in an attempt to curb the pressure that was constantly in Manning’s face.
The 49ers returned to their run-first roots in this game, hoping to create big plays in the passing game off the run. The Giants were once again burned by a big play, a 48-yard catch and run by Michael Crabtree. All in all though, the Giants defense would take this performance all day: they gave up just 16 points, Kaepernick completed just 52% of his passes and had under 200 yards passing, and showed a lot of resilience as the 49ers got closer to the end zone to force field goals.
This was not an embarrassment on the level of last week, but the Giants were second best up front and San Francisco found success returning to their run-first roots. The 49ers occasionally utilized the read-option that tore the Giants apart last week, but this was more about some tough traditional running by Frank Gore and once again an inability to contain outside runs. This wasn’t a complete gashing, and the Giants defended rookie Carlos Hyde well, but the 49ers stuck with the run and it wore down the Giants.
The Giants got some good returns from Beckham and Preston Parker and took a risk that paid off with the onside kick. Josh Brown made his only field goal attempt, though in terms of punting this was not Weatherford’s best day.