A matchup against one of the favourites for the Super Bowl was always going to be tough, but a poor offensive line, missed tackles, and lacklustre commitment meant that the San Francisco 49ers barely had to get out of second gear.
Offensively, the Giants sustained a solid first drive of the game, and unlike Week 1’s disaster against the Cowboys, the field goal wasn’t blocked. The 49 yards on 12 plays were about as good as it got for the offence, but more on that later.
One positive personnel development was the return of Wan’Dale Robinson, and despite him only getting 11 snaps as he continued his comeback, he was targeted five times, making four catches for 21 yards. There was a slight scare as he took a shot to the back of the head on his first catch of the game and looked unstable on his feet, but there seems to have been no negative impact from that.
Defensively, I think the Giants fans may have to tip our hats to Micah McFadden. One week after both myself and the rest of the Giants fandom questioned his execution and skillset, he came out and delivered a solid performance. Constantly during the game, it seemed like his name was being mentioned as he finished the game with ten tackles, four of them for a loss and a quarterback hurry. The only blemish on his night were the three missed tackles.
Another player who had a disappointing showing last week against the Cardinals and elevated his play against the 49ers was D.J. Davidson. There were a lot of raised eyebrows that Davidson was active over Jordon Riley, but he had a solid showing with a pass batted down, a quarterback hit, and a shared sack with Leonard Williams. He also impacted the play that got Kayvon Thibodeaux and the Giants their first sack of the season.
Speaking of Williams, he looked much more powerful than the previous two weeks, picking up four pressures, one hurry, two quarterback hits, the sack, and four tackles, all for a loss. His partner in crime, Sexy Dexy, also had four pressures, all hurries, along with four tackles, three for loss.
Finally, it’s time to give some love to Jamie Gillan. Yes, he’s inconsistent; however, when he’s averaging 52.7 yards per punt and getting improved hangtime, you have to praise a job well done.
I want to start with Jones, but it’s difficult because there is so much to factor in, so let’s get that out of the way, and then we can talk about Jones.
Ok, yes, the offensive line gave up fewer sacks and pressures to the 49ers than their previous two opponents, despite missing two starters; however, that was just 52 snaps. That’s 11 fewer than the Steelers had against the 9ers in Week 1 and 28 less than the Rams in Week 2. The Giants pass blocking grade on Thursday was the third worst league-wide since 2020, and a direct result of that was Jones’s average time to pressure, which was 2.2 seconds. That’s worse than it was in Week 1 against Dallas!
Next point, the running game was non-existent, despite Brieda’s 8-yard touchdown run. The Giants ran the ball a total of 29 yards on 11 rushes. That is their second-lowest number of attempts in the Super Bowl era; the lowest was back in 1989. Even Nick Bosa said after the game that he was surprised that the Giants didn’t try more zone reads, though he did say it might be because they prepped for it.
Darren Waller also had a game to forget, as he had three catches on seven targets with two drops, one of which resulted in yet another interception. Jones now has four on the season, three of which have hit his receivers in the gloves.
Right, Jones, should he have maybe done better on the throw to Waller? Probably, but he had two rushers pretty much about to smash him, and as for the aforementioned interception, that’s a freak play that bounces off Waller and then is pinballed into the air.
The problem I do have, though, is that he seems unwilling to take risks. He had Hyatt on one play with only safety coverage and didn’t take the shot. In fact, he only had two passes over 20 yards in the whole game, and only six were farther than 10 yards. As a result, his pass completion percentage of 69 looked nice on paper, but when you dig into it further, it’s a meagre 4.3 yards per attempt.
Two points here: missed tackles and third downs.
In Thursday’s game, the defence finished the game with 16 missed tackles. That’s right, 16! Three each from McFadden, Tre Hawkins, Jason Pinnock, and Bobby Okereke; two from Xavier McKinney; and one each from Tae Banks and Kayvon Thibodeaux. To put into perspective how bad that is, the Giants had 49 the whole of last season. The Giants were already 28th in the league in missed tackles before this game, and it’s only getting worse.
The 49ers faced 16 third downs Thursday night, and they converted nine of those for a conversion rate of 56.3%. On one drive, the Giants gave up a third and 15, a third and 13, and a touchdown on a third and five. They also had two penalties on third downs, meaning two free conversions. The killer was the screen pass, which meant both Deebo and McCaffrey were converting at will thanks to those previously mentioned missed tackles.
After two weeks on the West Coast, the Giants return to MetLife Stadium on Monday night to face off against the 2-1 Seattle Seahawks.
The two battled it out last season in Week 8, with the Seahawks emerging victorious 27-13 despite the game being close all the way up until midway through the 4th quarter.