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49ers 36, Giants 9: One thing we learned

What did we learn? The difference between the Giants and a Super Bowl contender

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants might have come into this game thinking they could steal an upset win over a beat-up San Francisco 49ers squad. Instead, the game ended on a whimper as the Giants were embarrassed 36-9 by the 49ers reserve and practice squad players.

Ordinarily I would be going down through a variety of sub-heads looking at some of the positive and negative takeaways from the game. I won’t — can’t — be doing that this week, because we really only learned one thing. We learned the difference between the 0-3 Giants and a Super Bowl contender.

  • Jimmy Garoppolo
  • George Kittle
  • Jordan Reed
  • Weston Richburg
  • Deebo Samuel
  • Raheem Mostert
  • Tevin Coleman
  • Nick Bosa
  • Solomon Thomas
  • Dee Ford
  • Richard Sherman
  • Dre Greenlaw
  • Ahkello Witherspoon

That’s the list of starters or major contributors the 49ers were without by the end of the game. Starting QB, center, WR, RB, top three pass rushers, linebackers and their top cornerback, and it didn’t matter. The 49ers simply embarrassed the Giants and it was probably a blessing in disguise that fans weren’t allowed in the stands.

We often talk about teams as being “one player away” from a Super Bowl run, but the truth is that players don’t win Super Bowls, teams do. Teams win Super Bowls with their starters, their depth, and with how their coaches put the players in position to find success. The Giants were routed by the kind of team San Francisco would field in the second half of the second preseason game.

Yes, the game might have been different if the Giants had Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, but that excuse utterly evaporates in the face of the adversity through which the 49ers had to work.

John Lynch assembled a roster with the depth to dominate the dregs of the NFL. Meanwhile the Giants’ mostly-intact squad couldn’t keep up a rusty Steelers’ squad, needed every chance a wildly inconsistent Mitchell Trubisky could give them to be competitive against the Bears, and were then blown off the field by San Francisco’s back-ups.

The Giants simply could not keep up when the other team didn’t make game-altering mistakes.

Kyle Shanahan showed why he has been regarded as one of the top offensive minds in the NFL over the last decade. Not only did he easily identify and attack the Giants’ weaknesses, he was able to do so while not exposing his backup players. And as the game went on he was able to identify the Giants’ tendencies and manipulate them with his play sequencing, leading to more big plays.

You’d best believe that Sean McVay will be watching this game tape and taking notes — and that Aaron Donald will be licking his chops.

All told, the 49ers dominated the game, holding the ball for an incredible 39:44 of game clock and Nick Mullens completed 25 of 36 (69.4 percent), throwing for 343 yards (9.4 per attempt).

Daniel Jones, meanwhile, only edged over 50 percent completion and 5.0 yards per attempt with his last couple garbage time passes. But by that time the 49ers were more than happy to trade field position and easy completions for game clock to get the game over without any further injuries. Never mind the turnovers that still plague the Giants’ offense.

There were a few bright spots, like how the Giants used Jones’ legs to supplement (or rather, supplant) their nonexistent running game, or the play of James Bradberry. But still, a couple bright spots doesn’t make up for just how completely the Giants were dominated in this game.

No team is ever as good as they look in their best win, nor as bad as they look in their worst loss. So the Giants probably aren’t as bad as they looked in this 36-9 drubbing, though the score probably should have been even more lopsided. But if we learned one thing about them this week, it’s that they aren’t close to where they (and we) want to be.