The story this morning isn't that the New York Giants defeated the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Candlestick Park. The story is how the Giants did it, physically manhandling the team that is supposed to be the NFC's most physical squad en route to a shockingly easy 26-3 victory.
- Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 116 yards, the first time since 2009 a visiting back had rushed for 100 or more yards against the 49ers at Candlestick.
- The Giants sacked Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick six times.
- Eli Manning, sacked six times in last season's NFC Championship Game, was never sacked in this one and was rarely touched.
Here is what SI.com's Jim Trotter wrote:
Do not be fooled by the score. The game was not as close as the 23-point margin, which marks the worst loss in the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco. New York (4-2) did to the 49ers what no team has done since Jim Harbaugh arrived as coach last year: It beat them physically, rushing for 126 of its 149 yards in the second half. That was more yards in one half than 22 of San Francisco's previous 23 opponents had run for in a game, including the postseason.
Bradshaw, in need of an IV, checked out of the game in the closing minutes and let David Wilson again flash that impressive speed. By that time the 49ers needed more than an IV. They needed to search for their identity because, on this day, the Giants stripped them of it.
The 49ers are a team that relies on physical domination, running the football on offense and imposing their will on teams with a suffocating defense.
Sunday, the Giants simply jammed the ball down San Francisco's throat -- especially in the second half -- and a defensive front criticized in recent weeks spent much of the day in the 49ers' backfield.
"I think this is our most complete game all year long, against a very, very worthy opponent," said safety Antrel Rolle, who had two interceptions. "I think all three phases of the game did an exceptional job, offensively, defensively and special teams."
The numbers of the quarterbacks in this game are instructive. Eli Manning went 15-for-28 and passed for only 193 yards. Be honest, who thought the Giants could go into San Francisco and win a game with Manning passing for less than 200 yards? The Giants dominated in so many other areas, though, that Manning could play like, well, Alex Smith, and the Giants still won easily.
The 49ers on the other hand had to ask Smith to play like Manning often does, and that didn't happen. Smith went 19-for-30 for 200 yards and three interceptions -- each, to be honest, on balls that were thrown horribly.
Coach Tom Coughlin called the victory "a start in that direction" of becoming the kind of team the Giants were at the end of last season.
That is a hard statement to argue with. I doubt the 49ers would take issue with it today.