Analysis of the Giants’ Performance in Thursday Night’s 30-12 Loss to the 49ers, Highlighting Defensive Challenges on Third Downs

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) runs with the ball ahead of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. (92) in the first quarter. / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants dropped to 1-2 on the season as the San Francisco 49ers dominated time of possession and outgained them 441-150 on the way to an impressive 30-12 win. However, New York was still in the game into the fourth quarter, despite the fact that many expected them to get blown out.

Big Blue found themselves in a familiar position, down by multiple scores in the first half on Thursday night. However, they battled back to make it a competitive one-score game heading into the fourth quarter against a tough 49ers team.

San Francisco took a 17-3 lead in the second quarter, but a field goal before halftime and Matt Breida’s eight-yard touchdown run in the third quarter brought the Giants within five at 17-12.

Having extended their lead to 23-12 with a couple of field goals, the 49ers iced the game with just under six minutes to play on Brock Purdy’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel, who had a big day on offense for the 49ers with 129 yards on six catches while Purdy passed for over 300 yards and George Kittle and Christian McCaffery also had big games.

While it perhaps bodes well for the Giants that they were able to hang with one of the league’s better teams with some key players missing, they’ll need more than moral victories to stay in the NFC East race. At 1-2, the pressure to win in their next few games will intensify, but at least they seem to have stabilized things after a rocky start to the year and now have 11 days to prepare for their next game.

Here are the key takeaways…

– Compared with their first two games, the Giants only trailing 17-6 at the half could be considered a minor success. However, despite scoring some points before halftime for the first time all season, the Giants were dominated and arguably lucky to be as close as they were. San Francisco outgained them by 242 yards to 88 in the first half and controlled the time of possession for exactly 20 minutes.

 The key to the first half was third down conversions, with the 49ers recording seven before halftime. These included two screen passes on 3rd-and-15 and 3rd-and-13 to Samuel and McCaffery with the Giants struggling to get off blocks in space.

– The Giants were aggressive on defense early, sending extra rushers in an effort to generate more pressure than they have in previous games. Kayvon Thibodeaux finally registered the team’s first sack of the season, but this was more of a coverage sack.

– It was good to see Wan’Dale Robinson back in action following his ACL tear last November. Robinson caught four passes, albeit for just 21 yards.

– The 49ers have so much offensive firepower even with Brandon Aiyuk out, but also got some useful contributions from seventh-round rookie Ronnie Bell, who beat fellow rookie Deonte Banks for a touchdown and also came up with a big first down catch on a ball that was batted into the air. Banks, who had a nice pass break-up on the first drive, left the game with an arm injury before halftime.

– With two starters missing, the Giants offensive line was always likely to be overmatched against the 49ers pass rush, especially Nick Bosa, but they didn’t do themselves any favors when Bosa broke through completely untouched for a big sack on an ill-conceived play-action pass. Javon Hargreaves also beat Shane Lemieux, who was making just his third start since 2020, for a big first half sack.

– Penalties were a big factor in the third quarter with Darnay Holmes and Thibodeaux each flagged on third down to extend a drive that ended in a field goal to make the score 20-12. Brian Daboll was furious about the call on Thibodeaux, who was called for illegal contact after dropping into coverage.

– The Giants’ defensive line depth took a hit at the end of the third quarter when D. J. Davidson and Rakeem Nuñez-Roches both left the game with injuries on back-to-back plays. If those players miss significant time, New York may need to rely on rookie Jordon Riley to step up in the weeks ahead.

Daniel Jones didn’t make a big mistake until he threw an interception with under four minutes to go, but he accounted for just 137 passing yards on 32 attempts and only rushed for five yards. The Giants clearly missed Saquon Barkley as they were held to 29 rushing yards.

What’s next

The Giants (1-2) have a mini-bye week as they have 11 days until they host the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football at 8:15 p.m. on Oct. 2. The Seahawks (1-1) host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

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