X's and O's for GI Staff

QUARTERBACKS Eli Manning's terrible throw toward Amani Toomer should've been intercepted by SS Tony Parrish near San Francisco's 6-yard line with 7:13 left in the game. The ball bounced off Parrish's hands, however, and the Giants went ahead 24-6 two plays later. Had Parrish picked off Manning, he might've returned it 94 yards for a score, which would've cut the Giants' lead to four with about seven minutes to play.

Even on Manning's biggest gains of the day (see receivers/tight ends section), he underthrew balls to Plaxico Burress (50 yards) and Amani Toomer (23 yards), and overthrew Jeremy Shockey (32-yard touchdown). Bottom Line: Despite decent numbers, Manning played poorly.

RUNNING BACKS

With the 49ers overloaded to the middle of the field, Brandon Jacobs deftly shifted direction and almost literally walked into the end zone untouched for a 1-yard touchdown that put the Giants up three scores with 6:18 to play. FB Jim Finn sealed off Parrish to help open the huge hole on the right side that enabled Jacobs to score his first touchdown, also a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Bottom Line: Jacobs didn't fumble near the goal line.

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Plaxico Burress, who was falling backward, displayed incredible concentration and great agility by reaching over backup LCB Bruce Thornton to make a one-handed, 50-yard catch down the 49ers' sideline on the last play of the third quarter. Burress tipped the ball to himself and grabbed it off his right shoulder pad before being tackled. The long gain helped set up Jacobs' first touchdown run, one that gave the Giants a 17-6 lead 1:41 into the fourth quarter. Amani Toomer made a similar spectacular catch in the fourth quarter, patiently waiting for Manning's underthrown ball to catch it over his right shoulder, with backup LCB Derrick Johnson closely covering him. The 23-yard gain on a third-and-eight play immediately preceded Jacobs' second score. TE Jeremy Shockey showed incredible concentration, too, when he extended himself fully to catch an overthrown Manning pass, kept his hands underneath the ball after landing hard on the ground and rolled across the goal line for a 32-yard touchdown reception that helped put the Giants in front 10-0 with 13 seconds left before halftime. Bottom Line: They made several special catches.

OFFENSIVE LINE

LG Chris Snee showed great awareness by immediately pouncing on FB Jim Finn's fumble, which RILB Derek Smith was in perfect position to recover at the Giants' 22 early in the third quarter. The Giants were ahead only 10-3 at that point. RG David Diehl manhandled ROLB Andre Carter, knocking Carter to the ground to help open a huge hole on the right side that Jacobs ran right through for a 1-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. C Shaun O'Hara nearly tackled hard-charging LOLB Julian Peterson, which gave Manning the time he needed to get the ball away midway through the first quarter. O'Hara's hold cost the Giants a 22-yard completion to Burress, and forced them into a third-and-12 situation, and then a punt. Bottom Line: They opened a couple considerable holes and Manning wasn't sacked.

DEFENSIVE LINE

LDE Michael Strahan, who had been blatantly held on the play by RT Kwame Harris, was persistent and tracked down RB Kevan Barlow, who had grabbed a screen pass from QB Cody Pickett, before Barlow could get a first down. Strahan's play forced the 49ers into a fourth-and-two situation from the Giants' 46 in the second quarter. Pickett out-ran RDE Osi Umenyiora around left end for four yards on the next play, though. Bottom Line: They helped pressure Pickett into mistakes.

LINEBACKERS

MLB Antonio Pierce's penetration limited Barlow to a one-yard gain, backing the 49ers into a third-and-nine predicament from their own 25 late in the first quarter. Pierce dropped Pickett for a four-yard sack on a third-and-seven play from San Francisco's 37 earlier in the first quarter, too. WLB Nick Griesen was patient in open space, read RB Frank Gore's eyes and dropped Gore for a two-yard loss on a first-and-20 play from San Francisco's 23 early in the first quarter. Bottom Line: Pierce and Griesen were their usual steady selves.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

With WR Brandon Lloyd not in position to break it up, FS Brent Alexander was wise to toss his interception to LCB Will Allen, who was shadowed by nickel back Corey Webster. Alexander would've been tackled for a two-yard gain after intercepting Pickett's pass, but Allen returned it another 17 yards to help set up Manning's touchdown toss to Shockey just before intermission. RCB Curtis Deloatch was flagged for pass interference on Lloyd, who Deloatch hooked with his right arm. The infraction moved San Francisco into Giants' territory midway through the third quarter. Bottom Line: The 49ers' receivers caught only four passes.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Backup LDT Kenderick Allen was whistled for holding, which cost KR Willie Ponder a 52-yard return early in the third quarter. Ponder's 35-yard kickoff return gave the Giants' good field position (their own 38) to start the game, though. P Jeff Feagles boomed a 52-yard punt in the first quarter and averaged 45.8 yards on five kicks. All five of K Jay Feely's five kickoffs landed inside San Francisco's 10, an improvement from previous weeks. Bottom Line: The units were solid in all areas.

COACHING

Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator John Hufnagel instilled confidence in Brandon Jacobs by giving him the ball twice at the 1-yard line. Coughlin also made sure his first-place team didn't underestimate a defensively deficient squad that started essentially a fourth-string quarterback. Bottom Line: It wasn't particularly pretty, but they won a real road game.

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