Week 6 had the 49ers feeling the wrong end of what they’ve been handing their opponents over the last couple of weeks.
The New York Giants came into Candlestick and rocked the San Francisco 49ers 26-3 in an NFC Title Game rematch. Both teams are now 4-2 as a result. The 49ers had control of the game early on and then lost it when QB Alex Smith threw an Interception to Giants CB Prince Amukamara early in the 2nd quarter. The resulting Giants possession led to a 6 yard TD pass to Victor Cruz. Smith would throw two more picks in the 3rd quarter. His three turnovers resulted in 13 points for the Giants.
“They’re a good defense,” Alex Smith said. “They don’t give up anything easy and we forced some things tonight. I felt like I forced some things, uncharacteristic, I turned the ball over. Any time you turn the ball over like that, it’s tough to win.”
Smith did not have a good day as he went 19/30 for 200 yards, was sacked 4 times, and picked off 3 times. They were all bad reads by Smith where he failed to check off defenders and tried to force one into double coverage. Smith only had only thrown one Interception all season entering week 6 and that was to Vikings CB Josh Robinson in week 3. That game was also a loss for the 49ers.
Up to that first interception, the 49ers were able to move the ball fairly well while the Giants struggled only getting one first down beforehand. Everything changed after that first pick as the momentum shifted towards the Giants’ favor while the 49ers were stuck playing catch up.
Eli Manning had a modest day throwing the ball going 15/28 for 193 yards and that one TD pass to Victor Cruz. His receivers seemed to make nice looking grabs through the game. Victor Cruz had 6 catches for 58 yards and that one TD catch. Domenik Hixon had the most receiving yards for either side with 78 yards in 4 catches. Even Hakeem Nicks had some nice plays despite his knee injury getting 3 receptions for 44 yards.
It was that passing attack but mixed with the running game for a balanced attack that wore the 49ers down by the 4th quarter. Though having a slow start like Manning, the Giants stuck with the rushing game to keep the 49ers honest and as a result, Ahmad Bradshaw ended up running over the 49ers by the end of the game. The 49ers defense got exhausted while the 49ers offense couldn’t give them a long enough break. Bradshaw ran for 116 yards and a TD in 27 carries.
What put the Giants over the edge was the opening drive to start the 2nd half. A 66 yard kick return by David Wilson set them up excellently for that drive. One completed Eli pass and some solid Bradshaw runs later, the Giants scored a TD with Ahmad Bradshaw punching it in from SF 1 to put the Giants up by 14.
That put the 49ers offense more off rhythm forcing Alex Smith to press more causing him to throw two Interceptions to Antrel Rolle on consecutive drives. Each time, the Giants capitalized with Field Goals made by Lawrence Tynes.
The 49ers never really established a balanced offensive attack, even from the beginning. They had all their unique running packages and even their trick plays with backup QB Colin Kaepernick but it felt like they were passing all the time and taking too many risks. That can certainly be justified late in the game as the Giants built the lead up but the 49ers started to panic and got off track way too early.
The 49ers ran the ball just 17 times for 80 yards. Frank Gore had only 8 carries for 36 yards while Kendall Hunter had 26 yards in 4 carries.
“We didn’t do enough,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We put ourselves in a position we couldn’t come back from, more turnovers than we’re accustomed to. Plan-wise, it wasn’t the right one. We’ll try to figure out what the next one we’ll be.”
The biggest play for the 49ers offensively was a pass to Randy Moss in the 3rd quarter for 55 yards getting to the Giants 29 yard line. The next play, however, Kaepernick came into the game to try and throw the defense off balanced but ended up getting sacked instead for an 11 yard loss by Jason Pierre-Paul. That drive ended with a failed 4th down and 15 conversion with just under 3 minutes left in the 3rd and the 49ers down by 20 at the time.
The rest of the receiving was mildly spread out for the 49ers. Mario Manningham had a decent game against his former team catching 5 passes for 72 yards. TE Vernon Davis was kept in check mostly getting only 3 catches for 37 yards. Michael Crabtree was a non-factor as well with 3 grabs for 26 yards.
Like the Vikings did in week 3, the Giants out did the 49ers on the little things and let San Francisco make the mistakes. The Giants committed no turnovers or mistakes in the game and pounded the 49ers with the ground game wearing them out. The Giants now have a one game lead in the NFC East over the Redskins and the Eagles at the end of week 6.
Meanwhile the 49ers now share a three way tie for control of the surprisingly strong NFC West along with the Arizona Cardinals who have lost 2 in a row and the Seattle Seahawks who have won 2 in a row.
The 49ers got humiliated by the Giants at home for a 2nd straight time and have no time to let the loss linger. The 49ers must face the Seahawks in Candlestick on Thursday night and this after a Seattle team riding high off a week 6 win over the Patriots 24-23.
“With four days until kickoff, we have to move on to Thursday,” 49ers Safety Donte Whitner said. “If we let this one linger, it can go into that game and we don’t need that. We don’t need two in a row, so we have to quickly forget about this one.”
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Written by Daniel Trucios