The Giants defense held the 49ers to two field goals on their first two possessions. But New York was lucky to find themselves trailing just 6-0 at the end of the first quarter as the 49ers were one pass breakup and one Jordan Reed catch away from taking a more commanding early lead.
Meanwhile, for the second straight game on offense, the Giants’ first possession ended with a fumble. Last week in Chicago, Daniel Jones lost a fumble after being sacked by Robert Quinn. New York was able to avoid turnovers in their second possession though as they got on the score board with 52-yard field goal by Graham Gano.
Though the 49ers had possession of the ball almost twice as long as the Giants, New York still found itself knotted at 6-6 midway through the second quarter following a 23-yard catch by Darius Slayton on the sideline that set up another successful Gano field goal.
A Jerick McKinnon touchdown at the end of the second quarter and another field goal to close out the first half made it 16-6. Though with the 49ers controlling the ball for 22:26 and the Giants having possession for 7:34, it felt like the score should have been more lopsided.
The tide started to change in the second half though as the Giants were outscored 10-6 in the third quarter. The 49ers scored 20 unanswered points to take a commanding 36-9 lead that they would hold for the remainder of the game.
Positives for Bradberry expose negatives overall
James Bradberry has emerged as a No. 1 cornerback for the Giants in the first three weeks of play. Entering Sunday’s game, Bradberry had a forced fumble, an interception and six passes defended. He was the highest-rated defensive player across the NFL in Week 2, according to Pro Football Focus.
In the opening drive against the 49ers, Bradberry had a big pass breakup on third-down-and-five to force San Francisco to kick a field goal. He leads the league with eight pass breakups.
Yet, Bradberry’s success has also exposed the weaknesses of the Giants secondary overall as the gap between the team’s No. 1 corner and everyone else becomes more obvious. The No. 2 cornerback spot was up for competition between Isaac Yiadom, Corey Ballentine and Ryan Lewis, but no one has emerged as a clear No. 2.
The rookie Darnay Holmes was beaten by Mohamed Sanu for the first down inside the 5-yard line on the 49ers second scoring drive. The 49ers continued to target and exploit Holmes throughout the game.
Yiadom did have a nice moment when he forced a pass breakup on second down in the end zone and Logan Ryan recored two pass breakups of his and put together a strong performance overall.
But the 49ers finished with 343 receiving yards in the game. Six different receivers recorded at least one reception of 15 yards or more.
The Giants entered Sunday’s game ranked 30th in the league in opponent third down conversion percentage at 54.84 percent. The Chicago Bears took advantage of this weakness in Week 2 when they opened the game by converting four of five third down plays on their first drive alone.
The 49ers continued to exploit that same weakness. In the first quarter alone, San Francisco converted four of six third down opportunities.
At about 4:30 in the second quarter on third-down-and-22, Mullens completed a short pass up the middle to Jordan Reed for seven yards. The 49ers should have been short the first down but an illegal contact call on Holmes allowed the 49ers to convert the third down and keep the drive alive. The penalty hurt the Giants by extending what turned out to be a scoring drive that should have ended in a punt.
The 49ers finished eight for 12 on third down conversions on the day.
Running without Saquon
Sunday’s game marked the beginning of a new normal in which the Giants began to figure out how to compete without star running back Saquon Barkley. New York entered Sunday’s game averaging a yard-and-a-half per carry. The Giants’ running backs carried the ball 30 times in the first two weeks, for a total of 55 yards (1.83 yards per carry), and 18 of those yards came on one play.
The Giants’ top rusher of the day though was not Dion Lewis, Wayne Gallman or Devonta Freeman. Instead, it was Jones.
He finished the game with five rushing attempts for 49 yards. He also has the Giants’ two longest runs of the season, for 19 and 23 yards, both of which happened in Sunday’s game.
Turnover trouble continues
After the 49ers scored the first touchdown of the game, the Giants got the ball back with just over a minute left in the first half. Jones threw a short pass that was intended for Evan Engram, but it was intercepted. The 49ers got the ball back with 59 seconds left on the Giants 32-yard line. The defense stepped up to hold the 49ers to a field goal but the score still stood at 16-6 heading into the locker room.
After a fumble in the first quarter and an interception in the fourth, Sunday’s game marked the fourth straight game that Jones recorded multiple turnovers.
Almost perfect on fourth down
The Giants entered Sunday’s game a perfect 4 of 4 on fourth down conversions and they continued their success when they converted fourth-and-two at 12:11 in the third quarter as Jones completed a short pass to Engram for 9 yards.
The Giants went for it on fourth down again in their own territory with less than a minute to play in the third quarter, but came up short by mere inches. A good call by Judge to go for it again to try to spark the offense, but the quarterback sneak failed to work.
The Giants’ receivers were largely absent from Sunday’s game. Jones finished the game with 17 completions in 32 attempts. Golden Tate recorded three receptions for 36 yards and Darius Slayton picked up three receptions for 53 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Blake Martinez recorded nine tackles, one sack, one quarterback hit and two tackles for loss. Julian Love led the team with 11 tackles.
Safety Jabrill Peppers went down on the field during a first possession field goal by the 49ers. He spent several minutes on the turf before leaving the field. The Giants eventually announced that Peppers would miss the remainder of the game with an ankle injury.
The Giants will travel to Los Angeles next week to take on the Rams at SoFi Stadium at 4:05 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on FOX.