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Giants-49ers: 5 plays that mattered in Giants’ Thursday night loss

New York Giants v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The New York Giants lost 30-12 to the undefeated San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football. New York’s offense was undermanned, as left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Ben Bredeson, and running back Saquon Barkley were all sidelined with injuries. The Giants managed only 150 yards of total offense with one interception.

On the other hand, the 49ers had 441 yards of total offense. Brock Purdy threw two touchdown passes near each pylon, one to rookie Ronnie Bell and the other to Deebo Samuel, who may still be breaking tackles as I’m writing.

New York was able to record their first and second sacks of the season in Week 3. Kayvon Thibodeaux came underneath an offensive lineman as Purdy stepped up to rush out of the pocket; Thibodeaux brought Purdy to the ground just before the second-year signal caller passed the line of scrimmage.

Leonard Williams and D.J. Davidson split the other sack on a first-and-ten, but San Francisco got the yardage after a 12-yard reception to George Kittle that transpired right before a Darnay Holmes defensive holding penalty on third-and-four.

New York was horrible on third down. They blitzed Purdy on 84% of his dropbacks, and Shanahan dialed up quick passes and screens to their talented playmakers, who broke tackles and made defenders miss in space. Conversely, the 49ers blitzed on 38% of the Giants’ dropbacks, which created one-on-one matchups for the talented defensive line of San Francisco against the makeshift offensive line of the Giants.

The Giants experience a mini-bye week and don’t play football till Week 4 on Monday Night at home against Seattle. They need to get healthy and go back to the drawing board on both sides of the football. Here are five noteworthy plays from the defeat.

Play(s) 1: Purdy passes

Brock Purdy seemed rattled and off on the 49ers’ first offensive drive. He threw a pass behind star wide receiver Deebo Samuel and almost threw two interceptions on the drive that ended in a field goal. On the ensuing drive, he threw a slant route behind wide receiver Jauan Jennings. The 80% pressure mark dialed up by Wink Martindale hadn’t manifested quite yet, but the quarterback was already off with his ball placement. That changed, though, throughout the game and on his two touchdown passes toward the pylon.

With a free rusher - and a half - in his face, Purdy found rookie wide receiver Ronnie Bell for a touchdown against rookie cornerback Deonte Banks. The Giants send six rushers on third-and-five Cover-0 look against a boundary smash concept. The 49ers isolate linebacker Bobby Okereke (58) on the outside against RB Christian McCaffrey (23), with Bell running the seven over the top against Banks shaded inside. The ball is on time and to the outside. The 49ers go up by 10, and their defense forced their second conductive three-and-out to set up the Christian McCaffrey touchdown before halftime.

The Giants made the game somewhat interesting after kicking a field goal to end the half and scoring a Matt Brieda rushing touchdown on their second drive after halftime. However, this second-and-8 strike to Deebo Samuel (19) from the far hash against a pressure look was precisely placed on time with touch. A beautiful play from the 49ers quarterback in the face of pressure.

Play(s) 2: Third down woes

The 49ers went 9 of 16 on third down, with several third down penalties to extend drives. But the most disastrous part of the third down mishaps all came in the first half. The 49ers converted on three third-and-10-plus situations. A third-and-15 went for thirty yards to Samuel, and then a third-and-13, on that same drive, resulted in a 17-yard gain to McCaffrey that eventually resulted in the Bell touchdown. On the subsequent drive, George Kittle caught an 11-yard pass on third-and-12 that resulted in a first down because of a roughing the passer against Leonard Williams. The 49ers were seven of nine on third down in the first half.

When a team blitzes so often, they’re susceptible to screen and quick passes. The Giants lived and died by the blitz in this game, which is completely understandable since New York was out-matched. They pushed their chips into the middle of the table, and the 49ers called their bluff. I don’t hate that strategy, though, for Wink Martindale, given the circumstances of the game. However, the inability to tackle effectively in space was an issue that was compounded by the Giants’ strategy vs. the 49ers.

Also, the Giants weren't great in offensive third-down situations. New York was three for twelve on offensive third downs. Brian Daboll was right after the game when he alluded to the difficulty of winning football games when there’s such a disparity in third-down success rate.

Play(s) 3: Missed tackles

There are too many plays to represent this sad reality from the contest. The Giants struggled all game to tackle Samuel and George Kittle. New York was out-matched physically by the 49ers, which led to more than 200 yards after the catch for the 49ers’ receivers.

I understand that the 49ers are a physical team with talented players, but these types of stats surrendered are unacceptable.

Play 4: Brightwell’s drop

It may seem trivial, but the Giants were driving the football with authority on their opening drive after their defense stiffened in the red zone. The offense converted two third downs, and the two receivers to the field cleared out all three defenders on that side. This could have gone for a first down, but Gary Brightwell (23) couldn’t secure the pass, and the Giants kicked a field goal three plays later.

Play 5: Sack to start the drive

Nick Bosa (97) recorded his first sack of the season on the Giants’ second drive in a tie game. New York’s defense forced Kyle Shanahan to punt on a fourth-and-2 near mid-field. The Giants were pinned back deep, and Bosa was not fooled at all by the play action. New York hoped Bosa would bite down the line of scrimmage, allowing Daniel Bellinger (82) to block Bosa down long enough to get Jones outside the edge. However, Bellinger was late to block, Bosa was, and is, very good, and the edge took a direct path to Jones.

The Giants were lucky this wasn’t a safety. New York followed the play with a 2-yard Brieda run and a short completion to Wan’Dale Robinson before ultimately punting. The 49ers proceeded on an 11-play, 72-yard touchdown drive.