After winning by a combined score of 79-3 and providing support for anyone to say the San Francisco 49ers made all the right calls, Greg Roman and Jim Harbaugh placed themselves on a hot seat this game. Only Alex Smith performed worse, finishing a game with multiple interceptions for the first time since 2010. With special teams struggles also playing a factor, the Niners fell to the New York Giants, 26-3.
The 49ers are expected to play well in all phases. At worst they usually outperform the opposing special teams unit; not this game.
Frank Gore, who was not a factor after the deficit grew, could have continued to pound the Giants had they been able to keep the game manageable. Gore averaged 4.5 yards on only 8 rushes. Alex Smith was ill-prepared to play comeback football.
After easily moving on the Giants for two consecutive drives to start the game, going 1-2 on field goals, San Francisco went INT-punt-missed FG-missed-FG-INT-INT. The Giants defense tricked the vision of Alex Smith the entire afternoon; trying his confidence to the result of more mishaps. The two missed-FGs changed the flow of the game, but Smith’s inability to manage the ball plagued the Niners and became the primary factor (zero) for the loss. He finished the game 19-30, 200 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
On the other hand, Eli Manning played a great game (hero) continuing to maintain “ELIte” status and arguably the most dangerous quarterback in the National Football League. Eli wins games that should be lost. He outlasts other quarterbacks in shootouts and does even more with less. Sunday he entered a cross-country road contest against one of the most feared defenses in the NFL with a banged-up offense and exited a winner going 15-28, 193 yards and one touchdown.
The Giants running game was not a clear factor when the game was in question; only used to hold offensive balance. The game was all Eli making nine consecutive throws at one point and converting third downs to Victor Cruz and others when necessary. Much respect for Eli Manning; surely, the 49ers hold more respect for the “other” Manning than anyone in the league.