Nov 142018
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (November 12, 2018)

Odell Beckham, Jr. – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 27 – San Francisco 49ers 23

QUICK RECAP

A rough week in California with wildfires destroying homes at a record pace put this game in question, as the air quality reached “dangerous” levels and was creeping towards the league re-locating the Monday night match-up. The 1-7 Giants ended up taking on the 2-7 Niners as scheduled.

The Giants came out of the bye week with yet another starting right guard, this time the newly-signed Jamon Brown who was recently released by the Rams. The Niners, who underwent everyone’s worst nightmare early in the year, losing their starting QB to a season-ending injury, gave the start to 2017 undrafted free agent Nick Mullens who was impressive in his debut the week prior against OAK.

The Niners took an early 3-0 lead as the NYG offense continued to show ineptitude on their first two possessions stemming from poor blocking and a nervous Eli Manning. However the Big Blue defense came up big, taking advantage of the green Mullens as he misfired on a pass across the field which was tipped/broke up by Janoris Jenkins and right into the lap of BJ Goodson. The Giants began their third possession on the SF 12-yard line and on 3rd and 8, Manning stood strong in the pocket and found a wide open Odell Beckham in the end zone. The Niners had three defenders in the area and none of them tracked the Giants most explosive pass catcher. Giants led 7-3.

The Niners didn’t let the lead last long, as tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida torched the Giants back seven on the next drive, as they did for the entire night. They combined for 6 touches and 51 yards, the last one being a 3-yard touchdown run by Breida up the middle at the start of the 2nd quarter.

After trading possessions, NYG put together their longest drive of the night: 14 plays, including 2 penalties worth 25 yards charged against SF, landed NYG inside the 10-yard line with a fresh set of downs. Pat Shurmur, who has been stating there needs to be more devotion to the running game since September, gave Saquon Barkley three shots at the end zone. It left them 2 yards shy and NYG had to settle on a 20-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.

Mullens and the Niners offense then rattled off 11 plays in under 2 minutes to consistent chunk-gains via the middle of the field. They were able to respond with a field goal of their own which gave them a 3 point lead heading into halftime.

SF opened the half at their own 40-yard line thanks to a kickoff out of bounds by Aldrick Rosas. The Mullens-Breida connection continued to move the ball and successfully convert on 3rd downs, the third of which resulted in a touchdown pass at the mercy of Ogletree for what seemed to be the hundredth time. SF was up 20-10 on their home turf against an offense that has been struggling all year.

The newly-signed Corey Coleman then gave the Giants a solid boost with a team season-long, 51-yard kick return. Manning then found Beckham for a 30-yard gain and all of the sudden NYG was back in the red zone. The Manning-to-Beckham duo stayed hot, as they ran replica plays back-to-back, the latter ending in an easy 20-yard touchdown as Beckham outclassed second-year corner Ahkello Witherspoon.

The Giants were down by 3 and then forced SF in to a 3-and-out, giving them the ball back with all of the momentum. Rosas nailed his third field goal of the night, this one for 31 yards, which tied it up at 20. Nick Mullens trotted onto the field and started to look flustered as the NYG pass rush was, at least, breaking through what seemed to be a red wall also known as the SF offensive line.

Mullens misfired on a pass intended for Marquis Goodwin and it, once again, bounced right in to Goodson’s hands for his second interception of the night. The Giants had the Niners by the throat. However a quick 3-and-out forced by the SF defense gave the Niners the ball back. The two offenses struggled to take control back but eventually the Niners put together a time-consuming, 11-play drive the resulted in Robbie Gould’s third field goal of the night. NYG had just 2:46 left to get this game tied up or in their favor.

There was a different feel to this one. There was confidence that the NYG offense was going to get this done. For the most part, the offensive line was having a good night collectively and Manning was hitting most of his targets. The SF defense, in addition, was nothing to be overly scared about. Manning hit Evan Engram, who previously had 1 target in the game, for a 31-yard gain, the longest play of the night for NYG. He then came down with another 6-yard catch the play after.

Then came the ugliest portion of the game and a clear sign that the two teams on the field had a combined 3 wins in week 10 of the 2018 season. Four penalties, two on NYG and two on SF, were committed and called in the next 20 seconds of game clock. The final one was an 18-yard pass interference on Witherspoon, when the Giants were in the middle of a 2nd and 20 situation from midfield, way out of field goal range. The next big play came from Barkley, a 23-yard catch-and-run that landed NYG at the 12-yard line. A couple plays later, Manning hit Sterling Shepard, who also was very quiet in the game until this drive, for a 3-yard touchdown. NYG did leave about a minute left on the clock for Mullens and company.

The Niners got the ball near midfield quickly but they had to burn their final timeout because of a false start by rookie tackle Mike McGlinchey. It can rightfully be questioned if that was a right decision by Niners coach Kyle Shanahan because they could have lost 10 seconds of game clock but held on to a timeout. Mullens was able to get the ball to the 21-yard line and spiked the ball with 1 second remaining.

Instead of sitting back, the NYG defense came with a full force blitz that made Mullens rush his throw. He sailed it past the end zone and the game was over.

NYG wins, 27-23.

QUARTERBACKS

-Eli Manning: 19/31 – 188 yards – 3 TD / 0 INT. Manning shook off a rusty start and played an overall solid game. His performance late was something we saw for years but not so much lately. He appeared more aggressive and braver in the pocket. He was certainly aided by the offensive line keeping it together for the most part and whether anyone thinks he should be here or not, Manning proved he can still get it done on multiple levels. He did have 2 poor under throws on plays where Beckham and Barkley beat their man deep, respectively. That power just isn’t there downfield anymore. In addition, Manning missed the fact that Beckham was left uncovered near the end zone on Barkley’s third straight rushing attempt near the end zone, which resulted in no touchdown. It was a rare mental miss by Manning.

RUNNING BACKS

-Saquon Barkley: 20 att / 67 yards – 4 rec / 33 yards. Overall a quiet night for Barkley on a play-to-play basis. He had issues with his footing early on, leading to an in-game footwear alteration. Barkley just didn’t have nay room inside to run and the tight ends were horrific on the edge. His 23-yard gain on the final touchdown drive was one of the bigger plays of the game. I often hear that he is too prone to bounce runs to the outside and I can see the argument, but some of his biggest plays this season were a result of that approach. Is there room for improvement as a decision maker? Sure. I wrote that in my scouting report of him last spring. But you have take the good with the bad with the understanding that the rewards of him running like that will usually outweigh the risks.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Odell Beckham: 4 rec / 73 yards / 2 TD. The night didn’t start well, as Beckham let the first pass of the game slip right between his hands, for his first of 2 drops on the night. However he and the Giants offense turned things around. His volume of catches wasn’t high, but he came down with 2 touchdowns and “could have” had 2 more if Manning hit his mark. Most important here is that Beckham continues to play as hard as any WR in the league. His production and thus his attitude is so much-based on the offensive line giving Manning time. Hopefully they can keep this up.

-Sterling Shepard: 2 rec / 9 yards / 1 TD – 1 att / 27 yards. Shepard was quiet for the majority of the night. He was thrown to just 3 times but the final target of the night resulted in a 3-yard touchdown. He has always had a knack for those short-yardage, get-open-at-any-cost type situations and he stood up when the team needed him.

-Corey Colman deserves a mention. He came down with his lone target of the night, which was an essential 3rd down conversion. He also provided a spark to the kick return game. A couple of nice returns were called back via holding penalties, but his 51-yard gain set up NYG for their third touchdown of the night. This is a kid with all of the talent in the world and nobody has ever denied that. His issues have stemmed from inconsistency and complacency. Could NYG be the pace that gets turned around? It’s worth a shot.

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram: 4 rec / 46 yards. With 2:43 left in the 4th quarter, Engram had 1 target, 1 catch, 1 yard. Fair to say he had little-to-no impact on this game until the end. He, along with Shepard, are dangerous weapons who can break off a big play at any moment. I think he is still getting his groove back after coming back from injury and if he starts making plays like he did on the final drive, this offense will break out. His blocking grade was slightly below the average mark again.

-Rhett Ellison played a poor, poor game. Especially upon my review/re-watch, his blocking grade was the worst we have seen out of him since he signed with NYG. DE Arik Armstead overpowered him with ease on multiple occasions. He allowed 2 TFL and a pressure in addition to be driven backwards off the snap multiple times despite playing just about half the snaps. If NYG is going to be a run-first team in the coming years, they need more presence at TE from a blocking standpoint.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

-Nate Solder and Chad Wheeler both had their best games of the season, respectively. Solder looked very nimble and light, keeping his assignment in front of him with great footwork. SF doesn’t exactly bring the heat off the edge with superior talent, but after what we have seen this year from Solder, it was a step in the right direction. Wheeler was quiet in a good way. He never looks pretty for the most part, but I saw an improvement with his footwork, consistency, balance in this one. His performance over these next 7 weeks will say a lot in terms of how NYG approaches the offseason in relation to the OL. I still think there is a shot he can be the guy at RT for the future.

GUARDS/CENTERS

-All eyes were on the newly acquired Jamon Brown at right guard. That position has been a revolving door and a major source of weakness within this offense for years. Brown, the new flavor of the month, didn’t grade out well. I do think he showed more that Patrick Omameh when it comes to picking up stunts and twists, something opposing defenses have been torching this OL with. However, at the end of the night Brown was the lowest graded OL with 1 TFL allowed, 1 pressure allowed, 1 sack allowed, and a holding penalty. Ouch.

-Spencer Pulley was the next-worst grade along the OL. His lack of performance didn’t pop up on the stat sheet as much, as he allowed 1 sack and that’s about it. However Pulley was the main culprit for no inside running game. He simply just couldn’t hold his ground, too much time spent being drilled back. Pulley is a guy that is almost always in recovery mode.

-Will Hernandez continues to put in solid, positive game grades at LG. He excelled at sticking to his man, hands on and inside, with good balance and presence. He had an ill-timed false start late in the game that could have really shot this offense in the foot, but his teammates picked him up. One thing I see about him that I just don’t like is the lack of ability in space to make a difference. On screens or even outside runs, Hernandez too often whiffs, doesn’t even touch a defender. He is a better athlete than that, but his adjustments just haven’t caught up to the speed of the NFL yet.

EDGE

-Olivier Vernon and Lorenzo Carter were the 2 main edge rushers in this game. Neither recorded a sack and overall, both of them were outplayed by the SF tackles. They each finished with 2 pressures but Carter actually finished with a team-leading 3 TFL. This was arguably his best game as a pro and he played about half of the snaps. His talent stands out and he looks like he is thinking less, reacting more.

-Kerry Wynn and Kareem Martin were basically non-existent on the field. Wynn was out there for about 50% of the snaps whereas Martin saw his playing time take a nosedive. I expect to see more of that with Carter being the main beneficiary.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The Niners ground game was a steady force all night long. Part of that can be rightfully blamed on the linebackers and Landon Collins, but BJ Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson were struggling to maintain ground against double teams, Hill more so. Tomlinson had a couple solid, rangy plays in addition to a TFL. Hard to expect either one of these guys to play on the same level as the traded Damon Harrison.

-Backups Josh Mauro and Mario Edwards both played well in their roles. Mauro had the most active game of his season, finishing with 5 tackles and 1 TFL.

LINEBACKERS

-The middle of the field was torched by the Niners passing game and Matt Breida averaged just under 6 yards per carry. Alec Ogletree was a culprit in both, as he just doesn’t have the quickness in his hips to hang with pass catching tight ends or backs that go out into a route.

-BJ Goodson ended up with 2 interceptions off of tipped balls. The first one led to the first NYG score of the night. While both of those plays were mostly right-place, right time results, Goodson played a very solid game. He was the most physical NYG defender on the field and he made several good reads post-snap that put him in the right position to make a play. He finished with 6 tackles and a TFL.

-Nate Stupar gets a few snaps here and there in addition to his special teams presence. He was flagged for a face mask penalty and a hold. Lately he has been on the wrong side of these evaluations.

CORNERBACKS

-Quietly, a very effective game for both Janoris Jenkins and BW Webb. They both kept the SF wide receivers in check, in particular the speedster Marquis Goodwin, whom they sent deep numerous times. They weren’t challenged much but they were still active. Jenkins broke up a pass that ended up being tipped into the hands of linebacker BJ Goodson for his first of 2 interceptions.

-Grant Haley saw the bulk of nickel snaps and even though he was beat on 3rd down a couple times, I thought he played well. The undrafted rookie made a key 3rd down tackle on the Niners second-to-last drive to force the try for a field goal rather than bleed the clock out. Haley is a more physical version of Donte Deayon, who just couldn’t hack it with the size and strength of the NFL. Haley has a nice opportunity to show what he’s got these next 7 weeks.

SAFETIES

-Even though Landon Collins led the team with 9 tackles, it was an off night for the up-and-down safety. He was torched in the intermediate passing game over the middle where his lack of agility and reaction showed. His game is very all-or-nothing and when he doesn’t seem on, he can really hurt this defense. There is a lot to like about Collins, but one of the hardest decisions of the offseason will revolve around his contract offer. It is a hard sell to pay him like a top 5 safety in the league.

-Curtis Riley missed 2 more tackles on the night, one resulted in a touchdown and the other was a long run by Breida. There isn’t anyone behind him that can play at a higher level, but man this guy is hard to watch.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas – 2/2 (Made 20, 21). Rosas wasn’t challenged with any long kicks, but he continues to be perfect on the road this year in one of the worst-kicking seasons the NFL has ever seen. He did knock a kickoff out of bounds for the second time this year, however.

-P Riley Dixon – 5 Punts / 47.6 avg / 42.8 net. Other than the first punt where Richie James had a 21-yard return, Dixon pinned SF well. He is on a nice streak right now. For the record, he is 4th in the NFL in net average.

3 STUDS

-LB BJ Goodson, WR Odell Beckham, OT Nate Solder

3 DUDS

-LB Alec Ogletree, S Landon Collins, RG Jamon Brown

3 THOUGHTS ON SF

-Watching every snap of Nick Mullens in his 2 starts gives some confidence to the notion that the next franchise QB may be easier to find than some are thinking. He isn’t overly talented. He wasn’t a stud in college. But he is quick to see, quick to react, and confident in his throws. The NFL is changing more each year and perhaps the process of finding the next QB won’t be as difficult as some think? We have never had a league with this kind of young-QB success and I don’t think it is their talent.

-Jimmie Ward is the SF starting safety that has seen starts at FS, SS, nickel CB, and outside CB. He will be a free agent in 2019 and I’ve talked to some who are confident SF is going to let him walk, as they just spent a ton of money at QB and RB this past offseason and DeForest Buckner has a payday looming. If Landon Collins prices himself out of NYG, Ward is a guy I would take a hard look at. He has been nicked up a few times, but I think his skill set fits in well with today’s NFL more than Collins. Just a thought.

-The next few years in the NFC West will be all about LAR and SF. The most common denominator in my opinion? The two head coaches. Young, fresh, innovative, energetic. Again I think Pat Shurmur deserves his shot here to see if he can turn things around, but at some point NYG needs to bring in a new-look-type coach.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-The best part of this game was simple. NYG played really, really hard. Offensively and defensively, they hustled and played like they were still in it. I am old school in that I think winning culture is as vital to sustained success as the personnel. Sure, everyone wants a top 5 pick in the draft but winning games provides value as well, value that can translate to success in 2019. This whole “8 game season” they are talking about is important.

-It is amazing how one overlooked-play could have very well changed the entire tone of the game. A play I don’t see anyone talking about. On the Giants second possession of the game with SF up 3-0, Manning threw a quick, inaccurate pass that deflected off of Saquon Barkley. The ball was floating in the air, about to be intercepted by SF K’Wuan Williams. But center Spencer Pulley comes out of nowhere and makes a catch that some of our tight end wouldn’t even have come down with. They both had control of the ball and in situations like that, the offense wins. If that ended up being an interception, I can almost guarantee this would have been a loss.

-The Giants are now looking at a pretty bad TB team before a division matchup with PHI. The win created a sense of euphoria with these guys and I am as confident as I have been all year that NYG is going to win this game. TB is in trouble next Sunday, watch.

Nov 132018
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 12, 2018)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 27 – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 23…
It was an ugly football game between two bad football teams, but the New York Giants won their second game of the 2018 season on Monday night by defeating the San Francisco 49ers 27-23 in dramatic fashion at Levi’s Stadium. The Giants are now 2-7 overall.

The 49ers actually out-gained the Giants in first downs (24 to 17), total net yards (374 to 277), and time of possession (34:14 to 25:46). But the Giants won the turnover battle 2-0 and were aided by a big kickoff return.

The Giants received the football to start the game but quickly went three-and-out. A 23-yard punt return by the 49ers set them up at their own 46-yard line. While the 49ers only gained 19 yards on six plays, it was enough to set up a successful 53-yard field goal and an early 3-0 advantage.

The Giants picked up a couple of first downs on their second drive, but punted the ball away again. New York got the ball back when cornerback Janoris Jenkins deflected a pass that was intercepted by linebacker B.J. Goodson at the San Francisco 17-yard line and returned to the 12-yard line. On 3rd-and-8, quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for a 10-yard touchdown. Giants 7 – 49ers 3.

The 49ers regained the lead 10-7 on their ensuing possession by easily driving 75 yards in seven plays, culminating with a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Matt Breida. Both teams then exchanged punts before the Giants began a long, 14-play, 80-yard possession that unfortunately only resulted in a 20-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. With 1:50 to go before halftime, the New York defense allowed the 49ers to drive 57 yards in 11 plays to set up a 36-yard field goal.

At the half, the 49ers led 13-10.

San Francisco received the ball at the start of the 3rd quarter and put together an 11-play, 60-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-8 from quarterback Nick Mullens to Breida. The 49ers were now up 20-10.

The Giants got a kick start on their first drive of the second half when wideout Corey Coleman returned a kickoff 51 yards. Manning then found Beckham for 30 yards. Two plays later, Manning threw a perfect 20-yard strike to Beckham for the score. The Giants now trailed 20-17.

The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out, and the Giants began the ensuing possession at the 49ers’ 47-yard line. A 27-yard end around by wide receiver Sterling Shepard helped to set up a 31-yard field goal. The game was now tied 20-20 late in the 3rd quarter.

Goodson picked off his second pass of the game early in the 4th quarter near midfield, but the Giants could not take advantage of the turnover. The 49ers and Giants exchanged punts before the 49ers managed to put together an 11-play, 54-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard field goal and a 23-20 lead with 2:46 left in the game.

It was now do-or-die time for the Giants’ offense. Manning found tight end Evan Engram for a 31-yard gain to the 49ers’ 44-yard line. The Giants then were bailed out on an incomplete 3rd-and-12 pass with a defensive holding penalty, and then again on 2nd-and-20 with a 16-yard defensive pass interference penalty. Two plays later, Manning hit running back Saquon Barkley over the middle for a 23-yard gain. Two plays after that, Manning found Shepard for a 3-yard, game-winning touchdown with 53 seconds left on the clock.

The 49ers did make things interesting by driving to the Giants’ 21-yard line with just one second left on the clock, but their last desperate pass fell incomplete.

Offensively, Manning finished the game 19-of-31 for 188 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. His leading targets were Beckham (4 catches for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns), Engram (4 catches for 46 yards), and Barkley (4 catches for 33 yards). Barkley also gained 67 yards on 20 rushing attempts.

Defensively, the Giants did not accrue a sack and only registered three hits on the quarterback. Goodson did intercept two deflected passes. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter was credited with three tackles for losses.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the New York Giants were quarterback Kyle Lauletta, wide receiver Jawill Davis, center Evan Brown, defensive end R.J. McIntosh, nose tackle John Jenkins, cornerback Tony Lippett, and safety Kamrin Moore.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • TE Evan Engram (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media on Tuesday.

Nov 102018
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, November 12, 2018

THE STORYLINE:
Is there anybody out there still reading these game previews?

During the bye week, I took my family on vacation to Florida. To protect my ever more exposed scalp from the Florida sun, I donned my New York Giants cap. Each day I was stopped by folks in the service industry, other tourists, and folks living in Florida. “Hey, another Giants fan! Go Giants!” Some were men, some were women. The ages varied. There was no embarrassment over, or hiding from, the current 1-7 season. Just a recognition that the team we love is going through some hard times and will hopefully be back someday soon. It got to the point where even my kids said to me with a bit of a look of astonishment, “There are a lot of Giants fans!” I responded with a smile and said, “Yes there are.”

For the second season in a row, the Giants are 1-7 at the midway point of the season. Despite changing general managers and coaching staffs, there does not appear to be any marked improvement in the team’s performance from last year. The quarterback also appears to be done with no obvious replacement.

I highlighted my concerns with how the team is being run in my last game preview. In my mind, it is not the players so much on trial during the last eight games but the coaching staff, and by extension Dave Gettleman. For if Pat Shurmur and his assistants are not the ones to lead the team out of the darkness, then Gettleman, who completely botched the free agency period, must also share a lion’s share of the blame for hiring the wrong coaches. Many fans will rightly point to ownership, but they aren’t going anywhere.

Giants fans are a loyal bunch. But we’d prefer to see things moving in the right direction.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Jawill Davis (concussion – probable)
  • OT Chad Wheeler (ankle – probable)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (hamstring – probable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

Eli Manning is due for one of those games where his most loyal supporters can claim he still has “it.” But as discussed ad nauseam, those good games have become too infrequent. Most of us know that Manning is done. The question is does John Mara know it, and is he too afraid to pull the plug based on last year’s fan reaction. (Again, I would contend that fans were more upset with how Eli was benched last year rather than the actual benching).

The focal point of the New York Giants offseason must be on (1) finding a viable replacement for Eli, and (2) yet another attempt to put together a competent offensive line. Neither will be easy. Very few teams are fortunate enough to make a transition from a Joe Montana to Steve Young, or Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. After Phil Simms was cut, the Giants went from Dave Brown to Danny Kanell to Kent Graham to Kerry Collins. The Giants will likely have a very high draft pick in April, but will there be a true franchise quarterback available?

On the offensive line, we have to pray the Will Hernandez is the real deal. Now the Giants also have eight games to get good read on waiver-wire pick-up Jamon Brown. But the “help wanted” sign is clearly out on the offensive line. The Giants need to replace both tackles and the center. That’s a tall task for one offseason.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

After trading away Damon Harrison and Eli Apple, expectations were high that the team was also likely to deal Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, and maybe even Landon Collins. They did not. Let’s hope the team does not rue the day that it did not receive at least something in return for players who may or may not be here when the team does become a contender again.

The last eight games must be spent on evaluating who will be the team’s primary pass rushers in 2019. Do the Giants rely on Olivier Vernon again? Does Lorenzo Carter have a future as an NFL starter? Based on who may be available, would the Giants be better off spending their top 2019 NFL draft pick on an elite pass rusher?

The Giants will also need to address the secondary. Screwing up top-10 picks in back-to-back drafts, including the selection of Eli Apple, was a disaster for the team. Jenkins turns 31 next year and the Giants have no one else at cornerback. The team also seems prepared to make Landon Collins – who is limited to the strong safety position – one of the highest paid defensive backs in football. But there is nothing else at safety.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

The Giants finally appear to have found a returner in Quadree Henderson. He was just re-signed to the 53-man roster after he was surprisingly cut on Tuesday.

THE FINAL WORD:
These previews have ceased to be previews. I apologize for that fact, but I don’t really see the point of getting into X’s and O’s and match-ups. The Giants can’t score. They don’t have a QB and they don’t have an offensive line. Pat Shurmur also appears to be yet another “up and coming” offensive coordinator who can’t handle being a head coach.

So on Monday night, we’ll be treated to the 1-7 Giants battling the 2-7 49ers. And everyone knows the outcome only matters to both teams in terms of draft-pick positioning.

Is there anybody out there?

Nov 152017
 
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Sterling Shepard, New York Giants (November 12, 2017)

Sterling Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers 31 – New York Giants 21

RECAP

Nine weeks into the season, two of the three worst teams in the NFL took the field in San Francisco. The Niners were expected to be in this position, as they are building their defense year by year via the draft and recently-acquired QB Jimmy Garoppolo to be the leader of their offense moving forward. While he is still learning the playbook, the Niners are relying on 2017 3rd rounder C.J. Beathard to move the chains and score points. On the other side is future Hall of Famer in Eli Manning but both support systems are hurting big time. The combined list of players on injured reserve is massive and the talent on the field for this game was one of the lowest we have seen, and will see, all season.

The two teams traded field goals on their respective opening possessions and after a 4th-and-1 stop by Olivier Vernon and the newly signed Kelvin Sheppard, the Giants took advantage of the good field position and Aldrick Rosas put another 40+ yard field goal through the uprights to make it 6-3.

The Giants were in position to take full control of the first half when Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk fumbled the ball as he was falling to the ground near midfield. Three plays later, the Giants were approaching the red zone but pressure from the San Francisco front forced Manning into a rookie-caliber mistake. Instead of tucking the ball and taking a sack, he tried to shovel the ball forward with no target in sight and it ended up resulting in a silly 2nd-down fumble.

What Beathard did three plays later is what the Giants were attempting to do. He took the momentum swing and turned it into a San Francisco score, connecting with speedster Marquise Goodwin who easily beat Janoris Jenkins downfield. It was an 83-yard score, the longest of the season for SF.

The Giants responded with a touchdown of their own, Manning to Engram, taking the lead back at 13-10. With just over 2 minutes remaining the their possession beginning on their own 24-yard line, signs were pointing towards the Giants going into halftime with a lead. However, with ease, Beathard once again drove his team down the field and connected for another touchdown, this time to TE Garrett Celek. The tackling and pursuit angles of the defense were downright pathetic. Tight ends have scored touchdowns in 10 straight games against the Giants and the theme of the coaching regime continues, same mistakes and shortcomings week after week.

NYG took 5 minutes off the clock to open the 3rd quarter, highlighted by explosive runs by Wayne Gallman and arguably the Giants’ catch of the year by Sterling Shepard. Rosas, however, pushed a 34-yard field goal attempt wide right keeping the score stuck at 17-13 Niners. The Niners put together a drive of their own but it was halted by an Olivier Vernon interception. Once again, the momentum was there for the taking but the Giants simply couldn’t step up, once again.

The Niners continued to creep their way up the field and ended up getting in the end zone on the first play of the 4th quarter via a Beathard 11-yard scamper into the end zone. On 3rd-and-2, Jason Pierre Paul was running away from the rolling out quarterback and cornerback Eli Apple made the decision to not try and prevent him from reaching the end zone. It was as pathetic of a play and overall effort I’ve seen all year, nail in the coffin. Within another 3 minutes of game clock, SF scored another touchdown via a Matt Breida 33-yard run and the Giants were down 31-13 to the 0-9 Niners.

The Giants did score a garbage touchdown at the end of the game on a pass to Roger Lewis from Manning, but the game was over as there was only 1:07 left. A failed onside kick attempt later, Giants lose 31-21.

QUARTERBACKS

  • Eli Manning: 28/37 – 273 yds – 2 TD/0 INT. Add a fumble to the evaluation of Manning – one of his worst we’ve seen. Manning’s deep throws (20+ yards) were more accurate than we’ve seen in recent weeks. His presence and confidence in the pocket have gone up now that Flowers has really stabilized his play on the left side. Manning made some solid throws into tight windows, showing zip and accuracy. He has never been an athletic mover when scrambling or rolling out, but he seems to be losing a step when he tries to evade pass rushers.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Orleans Darkwa: 14 att/70 yards – 2 rec/18 yards. Darwka also ran for a 2-point conversion late in the game. Darkwa has proven that when he gets moving downhill with some space to work with, he can be a consistent tackle breaker who picks up plenty of yards after contact. When the team gets an extra tight end on the field, his success is much greater. He won’t create much on his own via movement, but he is a more than solid bruiser.
  • Wayne Gallman: 3 att/22 yards. Snaps were limited for Gallman, only being on the field for 15% of offensive plays. What I’m seeing with him though is an outstanding job of being efficient with his footwork and decision making. He is very assertive and quick to react.
  • Shane Vereen: 5 att/11 yards, 4 rec/27 yards. Vereen actually led the RB group in plays for the first time this season. He has proven to be the top pass catcher and blocker among the group. Vereen has been underused all year but at this point, youth is going to have to win out.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Sterling Shepard: 11 rec/142 yards. Both were career highs for the second-year receiver. He and Evan Engram are the feature players in this offense and the fact they are so young is a good thing. The rest of the season will be huge for their progression as players in this league. Shepard started to see more double teams towards the end of the game, which is something he has rarely seen to this point in his career. He made one of the toughest catches we’ve seen all season in the 2nd quarter and has proven to be a tough, blue-collar gamer. Shepard fits well with the slot position.
  • Roger Lewis: 3 rec/33 yards – 1 TD. Lewis still struggles to consistently run himself open via quickness and route running, but he showed some toughness in traffic. He got after it and made a nice ball-skill catch TD late in the fourth quarter.
  • Tavarres King: 2 rec/22 yards, 1 rush att/11 yards. King had an impressive run on his reverse during the first drive. He is playing fast and hungry, but there simply isn’t a lot to work with talent wise.

TIGHT ENDS

  • Evan Engram: 6 rec/31 yards – 1 TD. Engram saw a lot of attention from the SF defense, something I expect most if not all teams to do from here on out. Again, it will be good for his long term progression. The route he ran on his touchdown catch was a thing of beauty. Eric Reid is a very good cover safety against tight ends, but Engram made him shift his weight with a fake out-cut before darting up the short seam and locating the ball right away and bringing it in as he approached the back of the end zone. His footwork as a route runner is top notch. Engram, however, had his second worst blocking grade of the season as he just couldn’t handle the physical SF edge defenders which resulted in a few runs being stopped short.
  • Rhett Ellison and Jerell Adams: Both were mainly in there to block, Ellison more so than Adams. They both graded out very high and are proving their value despite not being featured in the passing game often. This running game has reached another level since their playing time has increased.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • Tackles: Ereck Flowers continues his hot play. This is by far the best stretch we have seen out of him in his young career. It will be interesting to see how he finishes up with some better pass rushers coming his way. The hand accuracy, footwork, and effort have all been solid. The one thing I see him consistently struggling with however is reaching guys to his inside shoulder on running plays. Not an easy task, but it resulted in a TFL in this game and a no-gain run stop on another. Justin Pugh went down, again, with an injury. The question now has to be asked when trying to decide whether or not to sign him to a long term deal this upcoming offseason, is he too injury prone? He allowed a sack prior to getting hurt. His replacement, Bobby Hart, gave up another horrific sack where he didn’t touch the defender and actually fell to the ground trying to do so. His days have got to be numbered.
  • Interior: John Jerry and D.J. Fluker were inconsistent early on. Fluker was late to recognize lateral movement and Jerry misfired his hands three times in the first quarter. However as the game went on, they both evened out and graded out with positive performances. Brett Jones had a solid, yet unspectacular game at center. His pass blocking, especially on deep drop backs, was below average.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Ends: We can discuss a quality run defense game by Jason Pierre-Paul with his 5 tackles, 2 of which were for a loss. However his lack of impact on the passing game is frightening. I only counted 5 double teams/chip blocks, which means the average-level SF tackles had no issues with him. Olivier Vernon had a solid game. He had a TFL, 2 QB pressures, and a tipped pass that resulted by an interception by himself. His pass rush impact is inconsistent at best, as well.
  • Tackles: Damon Harrison was having another solid game, breaking through the line and affecting the SF running game by himself. He is virtually unblockable and the coaching staff has done a nice job watching his snaps to maintain effectiveness. He went down with an injury and left the field on a cart, however. Dalvin Tomlinson and Jay Bromley both had quiet games, but they did a lot of dirty work. Their glaring negative was almost no pressure on passing plays besides one time each.

LINEBACKERS

  • With B.J. Goodson out, Calvin Munson got another start and he finished with 6 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He is getting overwhelmed on inside running plays but has shown range and good angles when moving laterally. Jonathan Casillas struggled, missing 3 tackles and just being burned on a couple others. He looks out of shape and stiff. His 6 tackles make it appear that he had a better game than he really had. Kelvin Sheppard surprisingly had solid presence inside. The newly-signed inside linebacker who is familiar with the team and its defense made quality reads and physical hits. If nothing else, it is good to see a hustler out there who will still lay the wood.

CORNERBACKS

  • One of the reasons many Rams fans and teammates were not upset to see Janoris Jenkins leave in free agency last year was…well…exactly what we saw Sunday. Jenkins, for the most part, has been an outstanding CB for NYG since signing in 2016. However a suspension handed down by Ben McAdoo last week and a horrid 2017 season for the Giants have taken the wind out of his sails and it showed up in San Francisco. Jenkins was torched deep, intermediate, and short all afternoon. He missed three tackles, two of which were I would say a result of less than 30% effort. It was an embarrassment and he should have been benched mid-game.
  • Eli Apple continues to show the lack of “want-to” in his game, as noted above. The lack of effort he showed on the touchdown run by Brethard has become the new norm with him. He did make a couple physical hits earlier, but this stuff is simply inexcusable. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a quiet game, as his assignments were usually covered up or Beathard wasn’t looking their way. On the long touchdown to Goodwin, Cromartie may have blown his deep coverage assignment but I’m not positive what coverage they were in. I’ve watched it a few times from the all-22 and I am 50/50 on what his role was there.

SAFETIES

  • Landon Collins and Darian Thompson played every defensive snap. After Collins put out his worst performance of the season last week, the defensive play calling had him closer to the point-of-attack where he does his best work. He led the team with 7 tackles but is still showing poor angles towards the ball. The further into space he gets, the worse he looks. And he can’t use the age factor as a reason. It is an alarming trend that we have seen this year considering he is a safety. Darian Thompson finished with 6 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss. He has been playing a very physical brand but his range in coverage doesn’t give this defense a ton of stability on the back end. Andrew Adams played in certain packages and had an impact early, but was quiet in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • K Aldrick Rosas: 2/3 – Made 47, 42, Missed 34. Rosas has been very inconsistent this season and his long-term status as the Giants kicker is up in the air.
  • P Brad Wing: 3 punts – 41.3 avg.

3 STUDS

  • WR Sterling Shepard, DE Olivier Vernon, QB Eli Manning

3 DUDS

  • CB Janoris Jenkins, RT Bobby Hart, LB Jonathan Casillas

3 THOUGHTS ON SF

  • Another team that is doing it right when it comes to rebuilding their roster with a new, fresh head coach. They have some important pieces in place already and much of their fate will be on the shoulders of Garoppolo moving forward. But I like what they have in their front seven defensively and a couple of the pieces they have at the skill positions offensively. If their secondary and OL can be shored up, I think they can compete as soon as next year.
  • There were a few people I got to talk to during the pre-draft process who were very high on C.J. Beathard. His situation at Iowa was as bad as anyone’s when it came to scheme/offensive line/receivers, thus he was overlooked by many. He does have some of the essentials you need in an NFL QB. He is mature beyond his years, composed under pressure, and tough as nails. The way he took over the game at times with his legs made me think of former SF quarterback Alex Smith.
  • Keep an eye on this Matthew Breida kid, the running back that scored a 33-yard touchdown. While Carlos Hyde has the #1 job locked up for at least another year, there is a through the roof upside with Breida. His speed and burst to that speed are as good as I’ve seen in the entire league and he runs so much bigger than 200 pounds. When he gets some strength added to his game, he has the makings of a big-play back who you can’t keep off the field.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

  • Typically in the NFL, a coach who has had the season McAdoo has had in 2017 would not have made it home with a job after losing to an 0-9 team by 10 points. But it is simply not the Giants way to fire a coach like this in-season. It’s not going to happen.
  • A case could be made that Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh are the two most reliable OL on the team. They are both free agents this upcoming offseason and if this OL is going to need most of the attention in terms of building for 2018, what do you do with these guys? Those spots might be hard to fill via free agency, and the Giants can’t afford to use two of their first three picks on the OL. The issue is both of these guys have had a very hard time staying healthy and their price demands may make it tough to bring them back. The whole situation of building the 2018 OL is going to be very tricky.
  • Creating a culture of winning, hard-working, team-first attitudes would be a top priority of mine if I were ever building a team. Getting a team full of guys who love the game and want to win at all costs. They are out there and it can carry weight into the scouting process. I’m not sure the Giants’ front office has done a good job of this. There are too many guys who don’t get after it, don’t play hard, don’t put the team first. Long term, they shouldn’t be here. That would be priority number one for me this offseason.
Nov 122017
 
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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 31 – NEW YORK GIANTS 21…
It keeps getting worse and worse. The shit-show that is your 2017 New York Giants were soundly defeated 31-21 by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in a game that was not as close as the final score. The 49ers were 0-9 coming into the game widely-regarded as vying with the Cleveland Browns for the title of “worst team in football.” That honor may now belong the 1-8 New York Giants.

Entering the game, the 49ers easily had one of the NFL’s most anemic and inept offenses, scoring just 13 touchdowns on the season. The 49ers put 31 points on the scoreboard against Giants with 474 total net yards, including 186 yards rushing. The first 49ers’ punt in the game came with just over five minutes to play in the contest. For the second game in a row, the defense did not sack the quarterback.

Meanwhile, the Giants’ offensive totals look more impressive than they really were, as the Giants had a garbage-time, 15-play, 90-yard drive on their final possession that resulted in a touchdown and 2-point conversion. Up until that point, the Giants’ offense had only generated 13 points, 14 first downs, and 269 net yards.

The 49ers started the game at the Giants’ 40-yard line after place kicker Aldrick Rosas kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds. San Francisco only needed five plays and 35 yards to set up a successful 35-yard field goal. The Giants responded with a 10-play, 46-yard effort that resulted in a 47-yard field goal by Rosas. The Giants then got the ball back when the defense held the 49ers on 4th-and-1 from the Giants’ 36-yard line. New York picked up 40 yards in six plays to set up another field goal by Rosas, this one from 42 yards out. Giants 6 – 49ers 3.

Things got sloppy early in the second quarter. Safety Andrew Adams forced a fumble after a short pass that was recovered by linebacker Curtis Grant at the Giants’ 46-yard line. But three plays later, the Giants gave the ball right back to the 49ers as quarterback Eli Manning was sacked and he fumbled the ball away. Three plays after that, rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard threw a 83-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquise Goodwin on 3rd-and-8 as San Francisco went up 10-6.

The Giants responded with their best drive of the game, moving 75 yards in 10 plays as Manning found tight end Evan Engram for a 9-yard score. The Giants were back on top 13-10. That didn’t last long as the 49ers quickly marched 76 yards in six plays, with Beathard connecting with tight end Garrett Celek for a 47-yard catch-and-run for the score with 28 seconds left before halftime. San Francisco was ahead for good, 17-13.

The Giants moved the ball on their opening possession of the 3rd quarter, driving 59 yards in 11 plays. However, that went all for naught when Rosas missed a 34-yard field goal. The Giants got the ball back when defensive end Olivier Vernon intercepted a pass at the New York 25-yard line. But the Giants couldn’t move the ball and punted. The 49ers then pretty much put the game away with an 11-play, 61-yard drive that culminated with an 11-yard touchdown run by Beathard on 3rd-and-2 on the first play of the 4th quarter. The 49ers now led 24-13. The game got out of hand with another New York punt followed by another San Francisco scoring drive with running back Matt Breida running it in from 33 yards out. 49ers 31 – Giants 13.

Both teams exchanged punts before the aforementioned 15-play, 90-yard, garbage-time drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Manning to wide receiver Roger Lewis with just over a minute to play. Running back Orleans Darkwa rushed for the 2-point conversion. The contest was over after the failed onside kick.

Manning finished the game 28-of-37 for 273 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He did fumble the football away once again however. Manning’s leading receiver was wideout Sterling Shepard who caught 11 plays for 142 yards. Darkwa rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries.

While the Giants defense forced two turnovers, they accrued no sacks and barely put any pressure on the rookie quarterback. The defense allowed almost 500 yards of offense, including almost 200 rushing yards.

Video lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Inactive for the game were linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle), linebacker Devon Kennard (quad), linebacker Keenan Robinson (quad), cornerback Donte Deayon (ankle), wide receiver Travis Rudolph, offensive tackle Chad Wheeler, and quarterback Davis Webb.

Right tackle Justin Pugh (back), right guard D.J. Fluker (knee, returned), linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (groin), and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (ankle) all left the game with injuries.

ROSTER MOVES…
The New York Giants signed fullback Shane Smith from the Practice Squad on Saturday. To make room for Smith, the team waived tight end Matt LaCosse.

Although not officially announced, it appears the New York Giants have re-signed defensive end Jordan Williams to the Practice Squad and waived defensive end Nordly “Cap” Capi from Injured Reserve.

Smith began 2017 on the team’s 53-man roster but was waived and signed to the Practice Squad in late September. Smith was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft.

LaCosse was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Giants waived/injured him in August with a hamstring injury and re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November and the 53-man roster in December 2015. He played in two games and finished with three catches for 22 yards. The Giants waived/injured Matt LaCosse in late August 2016 and then placed him on Injured Reserve with a knee injury that required surgery.

Williams began the 2017 season on the Giants Practice Squad and was added to the 53-man roster on November 1st and waived six days later. Williams was originally signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jets (2015) and Miami Dolphins (2015-2016). The Giants signed Williams to the Practice Squad in December 2016.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Ben McAdoo (Video)
  • QB Eli Manning (Video)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (Video)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (Video)
  • S Landon Collins (Video)

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Ben McAdoo will address the media by conference call on Monday.

Nov 102017
 
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Game Preview: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, November 12, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
It’s hard to believe that we are only halfway through this mess. The Giants have had other hopeless seasons that were over at the midway point, but I’m not sure this level of despair and/or indifference has been reached in decades. And yet, we still have eight more games to play.

How bad are your 2017 New York Giants? 28th in offense. 30th in defense. Special teams that play a role in each mounting loss.

There may not be a better example of how transient the National Football League has become than this match-up. Six years ago, these two teams were on top of the NFC, playing in one of the most memorable conference championship games ever played. It was a hard-hitting slug-fest in the best tradition of the Giants-49ers games from 1981-1990, and it ended dramatically in overtime

The 49ers looked like an up-and-coming team who would be good for a long time under a head coach who was sure to be in San Francisco for years to come. The Giants’ road had been far rockier, but it looked like Eli Manning had truly reached top-tier quarterback level as he dragged a weak running and defensive team to the playoffs by throwing to young targets Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham. (In hindsight, it was Eli’s best season of his career). The Giants even had a new surprising tight end in Jake Ballard. Again, it was anticipated that these players would be around for years to come. Tom Coughin surely had surely permanently cemented his job security in New York – even Bill Parcells said so.

The combined record of both teams in 2017? 1-16. These two teams are now battling with the Cleveland Browns for the dishonor of being labeled the worst team in the NFL. It’s a comical fight for the #1 spot in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Giants and 49ers have gone from the cream of the crop to laughing stocks in just six years.

The question here for the Giants is this: how low can you get? It is frightening to contemplate that the game against the Los Angeles Rams may not be the nadir of this season. Have the Giants’ players quit? Do they respect and fear the coaching staff? Are they afraid for their own jobs? We’re about to find out.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • OL Justin Pugh (back – probable)
  • DE Olivier Vernon (ankle – questionable)
  • DE Kerry Wynn (knee – questionable)
  • DT Dalvin Tomlinson (ankle – probable)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (neck – questionable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (quad – out)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (ankle – out)
  • LB Keenan Robinson (quad – out)
  • LB Calvin Munson (quad – questionable)
  • CB Donte Deayon (ankle – doubtful)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Using the last three games as a guide, we see the only apparent road map for the New York Giants offense to remain respectable for the remainder of the 2017 season: run the football, sprinkle in Eli Manning passes to Evan Engram and anyone else who can get open, protect the football, and try to shorten the game. There were drives here and there against the Broncos and Rams where the Giants looked decent when they could run the ball. When they couldn’t against Seattle, it got ugly. And the problem against the Rams were the two first-half turnovers combined with the game rapidly getting out of hand.

The Giants simply can’t function consistently anymore just throwing the ball. They don’t have the receivers and Eli Manning is misfiring too often now. Regardless of the reasons, Manning’s effectiveness has clearly been trending down for two years in a row. He’ll be 37 in January and the Giants are going to have a shot at perhaps whomever they think is the best quarterback in the draft. This isn’t hard to figure out. There are many dangers for the New York Giants franchise moving forward. Making the wrong decision at General Manager. Making the wrong decision at head coach. Making the wrong decision at quarterback. Those are the three big ones. Change isn’t always good. But neither is loyalty. Not in this business.

Probably the most realistic ideal scenario is for Eli Manning to finish 2017 in respectable fashion, the Giants select the best QB in the draft, and for Eli as a starting quarterback to serve as a mentor for the new guy in 2018. Then Eli would have to decide in 2019 whether to retire as a Giant or keep playing with another team. It’s not the way we wanted it to end. We wanted to see him hoist that third Super Bowl trophy as MVP. But it isn’t going to happen. The Giants as a franchise botched it. They wasted the last six years.

The worst scenario would be to see Eli continue his shell-shocked play, get hurt, and watch Geno Smith finish the season. The Giants pass on the franchise quarterback and try it again with the same Reese-McAdoo-Manning formula in 2018.

I keep sounding like a broken record here, but the best thing the Giants can do on moving forward on this side of the ball is to finally determine what they have in Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Sterling Shepard. Orleans Darkwa is the team’s best back right now, but he’s not the future. Evan Engram is clearly a keeper. The offensive line is a mess. In their contract years, Weston Richburg and Justin Pugh were supposed take a step forward in 2017 but Richburg clearly hasn’t improved and is already on IR with a serious concussion. Pugh has missed time with injuries AGAIN. Bobby Hart has been a disaster. Ereck Flowers started off playing like crap but has settled down a bit. Are there ANY keepers on this line? Any at all? The Giants have spent three very high draft picks on this shit show! It is ridiculous.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
Granted the Los Angeles Rams are one of the better offenses in football, but that was disgusting last week. The Rams had nine scoring drives. The Giants only forced two punts and did not accrue a sack or force a turnover. 3rd-and-33? Some may point to the missing players, but at least guys like Avery Moss were hustling out there. It will be very telling to see what kind of effort Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple, and Landon Collins put forward in the secondary. Same with Jason Pierre-Paul, who is looking more and more like another front office re-signing mistake (see John Jerry on the other side of the ball). Olivier Vernon should be back this week. What kind of effort do we get from him after missing more than a month?

It bears repeating. The Giants were the #2 scoring defense in the NFL last year. Most of the same players are still here. Same coaching staff too. Now they are 30th in yards and 29th in scoring defense. DRC and Jenkins each missed one game with a suspension but the secondary has been healthy. Except for Vernon, same story with the defensive line. Now five linebackers are on the injury list with three key ones not playing against the 49ers. The Giants were forced to sign Kelvin Sheppard and Deontae Skinner this week just to have enough bodies. What if the 24th-ranked 49ers offense – with quarterback C.J. Beathard at the helm – move the ball up and down the field on the Giants? Can this defense that came into the season with the goal of being the NFL’s best sink lower? Can anyone on this team cover a a tight end?

Moving forward, the Giants can build around Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson. Those interior positions are hard to fill. Janoris Jenkins is a very good player. Landon Collins should rebound. Fingers crossed there. Avery Moss has flashed. But then there are question marks with JPP, Vernon, DRC, B.J. Goodson, Apple, and others. It is looking more and more likely that the constant revolving door at linebacker will continue in 2018 as Jonathan Casillas and Keenan Robinson are not long-term answers.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
Tom Quinn’s unit is now a weekly disaster. Each game it is something new. Ironically, Quinn is one of the few remaining connections to the 2011 NFC Championship Game, where his special teams had a huge role in winning that game.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Ben McAdoo on Eli Manning: “I think that sometimes I take for granted the type of guy he is and the way he prepares. I say things in press conferences where you have to hold all players accountable. He’s accomplished so many things in this league at a high level, but he still needs to be held accountable. The past is something that we all learn from and we all hold dearly in some instances, and some instances we don’t. I respect everything he’s done and accomplished in this league. But right now, we need to win and we need to play better and I don’t like to grade players in the media or in the public, but everyone needs to be held accountable and he’s going to be held accountable just like everybody else in this building that’s under my watch. Period. Does that mean I don’t have faith and confidence in him? Heck no. I’ve got a ton of faith, a ton of confidence in him. I always have. I always will. Do I say it enough to him? Probably not. I wasn’t raised in a warm and fuzzy environment, but I do have a lot of confidence in Eli and I have confidence that we’re going to right this ship and make a run.”

THE FINAL WORD
This is the game that may determine how significant the offseason house-cleaning will be.

Oct 132015
 
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Forrest_Gump_running_alabama_jenny

New York Giants 30 – San Francisco 49ers 27

Superstitious Beginnings

Schmucks like Deion Sanders and Heath Evans may pick on our beloved doofus from the deep South, but like Forrest Gump, Eli Manning usually comes out on top. And those schmucks can’t stand it. They’d rather celebrate some girlfriend beater or dog killer or rapist than the reserved gentleman from Louisiana. (Yes, Gump was from Alabama, but to us Yankees those deep southern states all seem to run together).

So up by four points with 1:45 left to play, sensing a golden opportunity to pull off the upset and save San Francisco’s season, the still-talented and aggressive 49ers defense seethed to crush our Gump. And the countless Eli Manning doubters across the country were sure our Gump would screw it up. These are the same critics who charge Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI were flukes, as well as the other 30 fourth-quarter comebacks and the two separate 4-0 playoff runs.

Hanging out while our Gump takes the field.

Hanging out while our Gump takes the field.

First-and-10, 82 yards from the end zone with 1:45 left to play. Cruz, Beckham, and Randle moping together on the sideline. Eli takes off.

You could almost hear Abby yelling, “Run Eli, run!”

So the 11-yard run wasn’t as inspiring as Forrest’s 100-yard kickoff return for Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide, but it was New York’s longest of the night, and it was the first play of the 8-play, 82-yard drive that won the game in 84 seconds. It set the tone for that dramatic march. Eli didn’t play it safe. He didn’t slide. Eli meant business. And his teammates took notice.

The point of my somewhat painful opening movie tie-in? Not much other than that I’m very superstitious and I feel the need to continue these cheesy movie references in game reviews as long as the Giants are winning.

Game Overview

Stating the obvious, this was a huge win for the Giants. The team’s three-game winning streak puts the Giants in first place in the NFC East after a very tough 0-2 start to the season. The Giants and quarterback Eli Manning also finally regained some of their seemingly long-lost 4th quarter mojo. That’s important for a young team still probably unsure of itself and seeking confidence. To win in such dramatic fashion, in front of a national television audience, will make this a memorable game for the ages.

That all said, we should not lose sight of some negatives. The Giants came darn close to losing at home to a team they were supposed to beat, and almost did so in horrific fashion by giving up a late touchdown drive for the third time in five games. In addition, the Giants appear to have come out of this game very banged up with potentially nagging injuries to both starting wide receivers, the starting middle linebacker, and starting left guard.

But the Giants are 3-2, in first place, with 11 regular-season games to play. Now comes perhaps the most important two-game stretch with back-to-back games against the Eagles and Cowboys.

Offense

The Giants had the ball for only nine offensive possessions, but had six scoring drives (three long touchdown drives and three long field goal drives) for a total of 30 points. Two drives ended with punts and another long drive ended with an interception.

The Giants racked up 30 first downs and 525 total yards of offense, including 441 passing yards. The team was 9-of-14 (64 percent) on 3rd-down conversion attempts and held the football for 31:58. On the downside, the team only rushed for 84 yards (though averaged a respectable 4 yards per rush) and was 3-of-6 (50 percent) in red zone of opportunities, including one bad interception and settling for two very short field goals.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback

What was once believed to be impossible by many, Eli Manning has successfully transitioned from a vertical thrower to one of the best short-game, high-percentage West Coast Offense passers in the NFL. He is no longer “the other Manning.” Against the 49ers, Manning played one of the best games of his career, finishing 41-of-54 (both career highs) for 441 yards (third-highest total in his career), 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Manning completed a career-high 15 consecutive passes over three series spanning the third and fourth quarters. He finished with a QB rating of 110.2. All of this despite a few dropped passes from his receivers. On top of the impressive statistics, fans will long remember how Manning rallied his team late to win a game that looked like another devastating loss with a ragamuffin cast of receiving targets. Manning targeted nine different receivers in the game. Although he was not sacked, Manning did a great job of moving around in the pocket despite some good pressure from the 49ers. Like the 2011 version of Eli, he carried his team to victory. Ironically, the dramatic victory was the 102nd of Manning’s career, setting a new franchise record. The obvious downside was the poorly-thrown ball at the end of the first half that resulted in an interception and three other throws intended for WR Myles White that Eli was lucky that were not picked off.

Running Backs

The Giants running game is not “bad” but we are still waiting for that breakout performance. However, the Giants running backs only carried the ball 19 times (as opposed to the 54 pass attempts). Rashad Jennings gained 46 yards on 11 carries (4.2 yards per carry), Shane Vereen 24 yards on 5 carries (4.8 yards per carry), and Andre Williams 0 yards on three carries (0.0 yards per carry). The longest run of the night was by Eli Manning (11 yards). So much of the ground game now is based out of the shotgun formation, even on 1st and 2nd down. And like a true West Coast Offense, the Giants often appear to be using the short passing game in lieu of the ground game, especially in this contest. Vereen was a far bigger factor in the passing game, catching all eight of the passes thrown in his direction for 88 yards. Not only did he catch a 2-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-goal, but he was a major component on the game-winning drive with three catches for 51 yards, including a critical 24-yard screen on 3rd-and-10. Jennings also caught all four passes thrown in his direction for 21 yards. Nikita Whitlock only played a couple of snaps at fullback but couldn’t create much movement as a blocker in short yardage.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Wide Receivers

Before he left the game with a hamstring injury near the end of the third quarter, Odell Beckham had caught 7-of-11 passes thrown in direction for 121 yards and a touchdown. He had critical receptions of 49 yards on the first field goal drive, 31 yards on 3rd-and-7 on the first touchdown drive (out of the slot), and the 17-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Beckham returned to the game at the end of the final game-winning touchdown drive, drawing an 8-yard pass interference penalty. Dwayne Harris was the next most productive wideout, catching 6-of-8 passes thrown his way for 72 yards. He did drop two passes, including on a 3rd-and-4 play and the Giants were forced to settle for a field goal. His most important catch was probably his 9-yard reception despite a big hit on 3rd-and-2 right before Beckham’s touchdown. He also had another 9-yard catch on 3rd-and-2 on the last field goal drive. Rueben Randle, who caught 5-of-6 passes thrown his way for 42 yards, was quieter this week, even before leaving the game late with a hamstring injury too. Three of his five receptions came on the second field goal drive (including a 4-yard reception on 3rd-and-3). His other two catches came on the last field goal drive. Due to injuries, Geremy Davis (23 snaps) and Myles White (13 snaps) played more than anticipated. Davis caught a 16-yard pass on 3rd-and-1 during the fourth quarter field goal drive. White was targeted four times but did not have a catch and three of those passes were almost picked off.

Larry Donnell, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tight Ends

With Daniel Fells done for the season and Jerome Cunningham on the inactive list, the Giants went into the game with only Larry Donnell and Will Tye for the second week in a row. Donnell caught 6-of-7 passes thrown at him for 35 yards, none bigger than his superb 12-yard reception for the game-winning touchdown with 21 seconds left, despite heavy contact from 49er defenders. He also had a hard-fought 5-yard catch on 3rd-and-4 on the first touchdown drive. Tye played 25 snaps and was surprisingly productive by catching all four of his targets for 48 yards. On his first NFL reception, he even showed some nice wiggle after the catch for additional yardage.

Offensive Line

The offensive line did not allow a sack (and Manning has only been sacked four times all year). That said, Manning saw more heat from the edges this week, especially from outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who officially hit Manning five times. Both Ereck Flowers and Marshall Newhouse had serious trouble at times protecting Manning. And Newhouse was flagged with two second-half holding penalties, including one that wiped out a 20-yard reception by Jennings. The run blocking was just OK as running backs gained 70 yards on 19 carries (3.7 yards per carry). The blockers did not create a lot of room even when the 49ers played both their safeties back. In addition, the Giants continue to have problems out of traditional (non-shotgun) running formations in short-yardage situations (see the failed 3rd-and-1 effort from the 3-yard line on the first drive where Newhouse missed a block). Left guard made a nice pulling block on Shane Vereen’s 10-yard run in the second quarter. Center Weston Richburg has an excellent block in space on Shane Vereen’s 24-yard screen pass on the game-winning drive.

One side note complaint on my part, on the play where Manning was almost picked off on the game-winning drive, Eli was hit as he threw when Pugh’s man illegally shoved Pugh’s head back to get to Manning. But no flag was thrown on the obvious penalty. Fortunately the interception was dropped. (You can also see that Flowers gave up pressure on this play).

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 1.43.54 PM

Illegal hands-to-the-face not called leading to hit on Manning.

Defense

Decent in the first half. Terrible in the second half. The 49ers had four drives in the first half. Two ended with punts after picking up one first down on each drive. Two other drives (55 and 76 yards) were of the bend-but-don’t-break variety as they ended with field goals rather than touchdowns. The 49ers gained 34 yards rushing and 115 net yards passing in the first half.

In the second half, not counting the last 3-play drive with 21 seconds left, the 49ers had the ball four times and scored touchdowns after long marches of 88, 80, and 80 yards. The defense failed to hold three different leads, including a 23-20 advantage with 4:29 left to play. The 49ers finished the game with 124 yards rushing. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 23-of-35 passes for 262 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a 107.1 QB rating. The 49ers were 8-of-14 (57 percent) on third down conversion chances and 3-of-4 (75 percent) in red zone opportunities. The defense did not force a turnover.

If not for the offense saving the day, this would have been the third defensive collapse to lose a game in five games this year. The problem? The Giants are missing too many defensive players on an already thin unit, and the team simply can’t rush the passer.

Defensive Line

The Giants entered the game minus starters Robert Ayers (hamstring) and George Selvie (calf) at defensive end. Because of that, Cullen Jenkins (53 snaps, 2 tackles) was moved back to end (right side this time), where he isn’t much of a threat to rush the passer. Jay Bromley (34 snaps, 3 tackles) started next to Johnathan Hankins (47 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss) inside. The guy who saw the heaviest workload was Kerry Wynn (66 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit). Owamagbe Odighizuwa (39 snaps, 1 tackle), Markus Kuhn (19 snaps, 2 tackles), and Damontre Moore (17 snaps, 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumble) all spelled the starters.

The run defense was strong in the first half, holding the 49ers to 34 yards on 12 carries (2.8 yards per rush) with 23 of those yards coming on two scrambles by the quarterback and a kneel down. In other words, the 49ers backs were held to 11 yards on nine carries. That changed after halftime when Carlos Hyde gained 81 yards on 13 carries (6.2 yards per carry) with Jarryd Hayne chipping in with nine more yards on two carries. Early on, the defensive tackles were playing well. Bromley has really improved as a run defender. Kuhn and Hankins did a nice job too. Wynn at defensive end continues to shine in run defense, but he seemed to wear down in the second half.

Hyde’s biggest run of the night came on the 49ers first drive of the second half, which resulted in a touchdown. Hyde picked up 22 yards when Damontre Moore was successfully blocked on the backside by the fullback and safety Landon Collins charged too far up field, leaving a huge hole in the defense.

Big hole left by Moore and Collins.

Big hole left by Moore and Collins.

Odighizuwa made a nice play against Hyde on a cutback run for no gain near the end of the third quarter, but he bit on a play-action fake on the next snap which led to an easy 6-yard completion and was easily blocked by the tight end for an 8-yard gain on the 49ers last TD drive.

The pass rush was virtually non-existent. In limited playing time, Moore made the most noise with two “sacks” and one hit. But those sacks were credited when Moore chased Kaepernick out of bounds. On the first of these, Wynn and Jenkins got decent pressure and forced the QB in Moore’s direction. Wynn was the only other player to officially hit Kaepernick. Nikita Whitlock played only four snaps on defense but got good pressure two plays, including drawing a holding penalty. I spotted Bromley with one good rush.

Linebackers

The Giants were without two of their best linebackers in Devon Kennard (hamstring) and Jonathan Casillas (calf) and quickly lost Jon Beason (concussion). Short-handed, Uani ‘Unga (65 snaps, 7 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss) and J.T. Thomas (64 snaps, 2 tackles) received the most playing time. Mark Herzlich started in Kennard’s place but saw less action (38 snaps, 5 tackles 1 tackle for a loss). Jasper Brinkley saw a handful of plays (5 snaps, 1 tackle).

Again, run defense was fine in the first half but seriously waned in the second half. Herzlich had issues staying with Hyde on one outside run, but did a nice job at the point-of-attack on other occasions. He also pressured Kaepernick on his incomplete 3rd-and-1 pass at the 4-yard line late in the first half.

In the second half, Herzlich couldn’t bring down Hyde after penetrating into the backfield and Hyde reversed his field to pick up four yards. But he latter successfully strung out another play. On the next snap, both Wynn and Mark Herzlich got handled at the point-of-attack and ‘Unga failed to make a play in the hole on an 8-yard run by the back-up running back down to the 4-yard line. Hyde picked up 13 yards down to the 2-yard line in the 4th quarter when the 49ers ran at Odighizuwa and Herzlich, and Amukamara failed to recognize the run and come up in time. Thomas was largely invisible in run defense and missed a couple of tackles. Both ‘Unga and Thomas (along with Jenkins and Hankins) couldn’t make the play on Hyde’s 19-yard run down to the 2-yard line late in the game.

Jenkins, Hankins, 'Unga, and Thomas couldn't make play.

Jenkins, Hankins, ‘Unga, and Thomas couldn’t make the play.

Minus Vernon Davis, the productivity of the San Francisco tight ends (6 catches for 41 yards) was limited. Backs caught three passes for 27 yards, with the longest being a 19-yard gain by fullback Bruce Miller. But ‘Unga got faked out badly on tight end Garrett Celek’s 5-yard touchdown catch on 3rd-and-goal.

Defensive Backs

The issue wasn’t so much starting cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but the nickel corners struggled with 35-year old veteran Anquan Boldin (8 catches for 107 yards and one touchdown). The other 49er wide receivers were limited to six catches for 87 yards. However, two of those receptions gained 55 yards off of WR screens, which the Giants played poorly except one time. Prince Amukamara, Trumaine McBride, and Trevin Wade all had issues fighting off of blocks.

In the second quarter, Rodgers-Cromartie (57 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 pass defense, 1 forced fumble) did a nice job of reading a short pass to WR Quinton Patton on 3rd-and-1, but he failed to make the tackle for a loss and a first down was the result. Late in the quarter, he recognized another WR screen and impressively jumped the play to break it up. DRC was flagged with a costly defensive holding penalty on 2nd-and-goal from the 4-yard late in the game. The 49ers scored the go-ahead TD two plays later.

Other than one defensive holding call, Amukamara (63 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 pass defense) did a nice job most of the night except for defending the WR screens.

McBride (13 snaps, 2 tackles) got beat by Boldin for 37 yards on 3rd-and-2 on the 49ers first TD drive. He was later replaced by Wade (12 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 pass defense) who got beat by Boldin deep for 26 yards on the 49ers last TD drive. Wade did make a nice play on a WR sweep in the third quarter. Jayron Hosley, who suffered a concussion against the Bills, surprisingly saw the least amount of action (9 snaps, 0 tackles) despite being cleared to play.

Landon Collins (64 snaps, 6 tackles, 1 pass defense) played mostly well, but was flagged with a borderline 28-yard pass interference on the drive that tied the game at 20-20. He also later dropped a sure interception in the end zone that would have sealed the game. Early in the game, he helped to stuff a Hyde carry with a run blitz. Collins also did a great job of reading a play where the 49ers tried to sneak the tight end out across the formation. He made a sure tackle for only a 3-yard gain. When he reads a play correctly, Collins closes very quickly for a big man.

Brandon Merriweather (57 snaps, 6 tackles) injured his knee, but returned and made a nice play for 3-yard loss on the goal line in the fourth quarter. Craig Dahl (19 snaps, 2 tackles) saw more playing time when Merriweather came out.

Special Teams

Place kicker Josh Brown was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts (22, 41, and 24 yards). Not counting his squib kick at the end of the game, 5-of-6 of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The 49ers returned one kickoff for 22 yards.

Brad Wing only punted twice with one punt traveling 55 yards and the other 35 yards, being fair caught at the 12-yard line. The 55-yard punt was returned for 16 yards however.

Four of San Francisco’s six kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Shane Vereen returned the other two kickoffs, one for 24 yards and the other for 20. Dwayne Harris returned three punts for 31 yards, averaging a respectable 10.3 yards per return. Geremy Davis was flagged with an illegal block on a punt return.

(San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, October 11, 2015)
Oct 122015
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Larry Donnell – © USA TODAY Sports Images

NEW YORK GIANTS 30 – SAN FRANCISCO 49ers 27…
The New York Giants rallied late in the fourth quarter to defeat the San Francisco 49ers 30-27 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night. The victory improved New York’s overall record to 3-2 and first place in the NFC East.

All looked lost when the 49ers drove 80 yards to score the go-ahead touchdown with just 1:45 left in the game. At this point, San Fransisco led 27-23. But quarterback Eli Manning orchestrated an 8-play, 82-yard drive that culminated with a dramatic, game-winning 12-yard touchdown throw to tight end Larry Donnell with 21 second to play.

The 49ers received the football to start the game and moved 55 yards in eight plays to set up a successful 43-yard field goal. The Giants tied the game on their first possession by traveling 76 yards in nine plays to set up a 22-yard field goal as the drive stalled inside the 10-yard line. Manning found wide receiver Odell Beckham for a 49-yard gain on this initial possession.

Shane Vereen, New York Giants (October 11, 2015)

Shane Vereen – © USA TODAY Sports Images

After forcing San Francisco to punt on their second possession, the Giants put together a 14-play, 81-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Manning to running back Shane Vereen on 3rd-and-goal. The big play on the drive was a 31-yard pass to Beckham on 3rd-and-7. Giants 10 – 49ers 3.

After another San Fransisco punt, the Giants moved the ball 43 yards in 10 plays to set up place kicker Josh Brown’s second successful field goal, this one from 41 yards out. Giants 13 – 49ers 3. However, the 49ers cut into that lead by driving 76 yards in 11 plays and kicking a 22-yard field goal late in the first half.

The Giants blew an opportunity for more points before intermission as New York drove 66 yards in less than a minute to reach the 49er 14-yard line. But Manning was picked off in the end zone on an ill-advised pass with five seconds to play. At the half, the Giants led 13-6.

The Giants received the ball to start the second half but punted after picking up one first down. The 49ers then tied the game on their initial possession of the second half by driving 88 yards in 10 plays. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick found wideout Anquan Boldin for a 3-yard score. Giants 13 – 49ers 13.

After the Giants and 49ers exchanged punts, New York drove the ball 61 yards in seven plays near the end of the third quarter and Manning found Beckham for a 17-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Giants 20 – 49ers 13. However, the Giants defense could not hold the advantage as San Fransisco responded with another long touchdown drive, this time 80 yards in 11 plays with Kaepernick hitting tight end Garrett Celek for a 5-yard score on 3rd-and-goal.

The Giants responded with a long scoring drive of their own, marching 74 yards in 14 plays. However, the Giants had to settle for another short field goal, this time from 24 yards out as the Giants went ahead 23-20 with 4:29 to play.

New York’s defense fell apart again, as the 49ers scored their third long touchdown drive of the second half. In just seven plays, San Fransisco went 80 yards with running back Carlos Hyde scoring from two yards out to put the 49ers up 27-23 with 1:45 to play.

Then came the dramatic game-winning drive. Manning scrambled for 11 yards and then threw to Vereen for 11 and 16 yards. Disaster almost struck on 1st-and-10 from the 49er 44-yard line when Manning’s deep pass initially appeared to be intercepted, but replay overruled the pick as the ball hit the ground. Two plays later, on 3rd-and-10, Manning hit Vereen for a 24-yard gain. After an 8-yard pass interference penalty was called on the 49ers against Beckham, Manning found Donnell for the game winner from 12 yards out with 21 seconds to play.

Offensively, the Giants accrued 30 first downs and 525 total yards (84 rushing, 441 passing). The team was 9-of-14 (64 percent) on third down, but only 3-of-6 (50 percent) in red zone opportunities. Manning finished the game 41-of-54 for 441 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. His leading receivers were Vereen (8 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown), Beckham (7 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown), wide receiver Dwayne Harris (6 catches for 72 yards), and Donnell (6 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown). Running back Rashad Jennings carried the ball 11 times for 46 yards and Vereen five times for 24 yards.

Defensively, the Giants allowed 22 first downs and 380 total yards (124 rushing, 256 passing). The 49ers were 8-of-14 (57 percent) on third down and 3-of-4 (75 percent) in the red zone. Defensive end Damontre Moore had both of New York’s sacks, but the Giants rarely pressured Kaepernick. The Giants did not force a turnover.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com. A video of the locker room celebration is also available.

INJURY REPORT…
WR Odell Beckham (hamstring), WR Rueben Randle (hamstring), LG Justin Pugh (ankle), LB Jon Beason (concussion), CB Trumaine McBride (possible aggravation of groin injury) all left the game with injuries. Beckham returned to the game.

“Sure, I was (reluctant to put Beckham back in the game),” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We were trying to win a game. He wanted to go. The medical people said let him go. I let him go. We’ll see what he is like tomorrow.”

POST-GAME REACTIONS…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

POST-GAME NOTES…
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Jerome Cunningham (knee), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), DE George Selvie (calf), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring), LB Jonathan Casillas (calf), and OT Bobby Hart.

The Giants broke a three-game losing streak on Sunday Night Football and improved their Sunday night record to 20-26-1, including 10-12 at home.

QB Eli Manning’s 41 completions and 54 pass attempts were career highs. Manning’s 41 completions were a franchise record. His 441 yards were the third-highest total of his career. Manning completed a career-high 15 consecutive passes over three series spanning the third and fourth quarters.

The victory was the 102nd of Manning’s career (94 regular season, eight postseason). That is a franchise record. Manning had been tied with Phil Simms (95 regular season, six postseason).

This was the 27th time that Manning has rallied the Giants from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie to win a regular-season game. He’s also done it five times in the postseason, including two Super Bowls. It was Manning’s first game-winning drive since October 5, 2014 vs. Atlanta.

DANIEL FELLS MRSA UPDATE…
According to an NFL.com report on Sunday, tight end Daniel Fells’ health situation had become far more serious. Fells, who has been hospitalized with a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) staph infection since last weekend, was moved to the Intensive Care Unit on Friday. He has undergone five surgeries to treat the infection with additional surgeries planned. There is a chance that Fells’ foot may need to be amputated.

However, NJ.com is reporting that Fells has responded better this weekend to a new antibiotic and FOXSports is reporting is reporting that his fever has dipped.

“We dedicated the game to Daniel Fells and his family, and thank God we were able to give him the game ball,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin after the Giants’ 30-27 victory over the 49ers. “Fells has had two very good days in a row…His MRI came back without any issues. Thank God and hopefully he will just continue in that direction and have this cleared up so he can go home and see his kids.”

ARTICLES…

Oct 092015
 
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Artwork by Chris in Philly

Artwork by Chris in Philly

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, October 11, 2015

THE STORYLINE:
We are already 1/4 through the 2015 regular season. And through four games, the division is at a virtual dead heat with 12 games to go. The marathon hasn’t yet become a sprint, but the pace is about to pick up. The Giants have two absolutely critical games against the Eagles and Cowboys in October. But the San Fransisco 49ers come first and the Giants can ill-afford to drop what many consider a very winnable game before the two back-to-back games against division rivals.

In case you haven’t noticed it, the New York Giants are in the midst of a fairly dramatic personality transformation. The 2012-14 “finesse” Giants are dead. The 2015 Giants will hurt you. They are tough, physical, relentless, and selfless. Despite the continued wussification of the League by Roger Goodell & Associates, this game is still about physical violence. The 2015 Giants have their holes. But they are not getting pushed around anymore. And they are beating people up. Keep your nickel. They’ll fight you for free in the parking lot.

Now comes an interesting test for the young pups. Can they handle their recent success and maintain their focus and intensity against a supposedly lesser opponent? Can they compartmentalize the MRSA distraction? The defense will be short-handed due to injuries. This is a must game for the desperate 49ers. The Giants are not good enough to take anyone lightly. This contest will be a good litmus test for the team’s maturity.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Victor Cruz (calf – out)
  • OT Will Beatty (pectoral – on PUP and will not play)
  • TE Jerome Cunningham (knee – probable)
  • LT Ereck Flowers (ankle – probable)
  • DE Robert Ayers (hamstring – out)
  • DE George Selvie (calf – out)
  • DT Markus Kuhn (knee – probable)
  • LB Devon Kennard (hamstring – out)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (calf – questionable)
  • CB Jayron Hosley (concussion – questionable)
  • CB Trumaine McBride (groin – questionable)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Despite their 23rd ranking and the departure of some key components in the offseason, the 49ers 3-4 defense is still the strength of the team and a tough, physical group. But they have struggled at times against both the run and the pass. The defensive line is pretty non-descript although nose tackle Ian Williams has caught Coach Coughlin’s eye. “He’s very quick, very evasive,” said Coughlin. The job of the down linemen is to keep the still-strong linebacking corps free. However, the 49ers will be missing one of their best players, outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (death of his sister). (Late Note: The 49ers have officially listed Brooks as “doubtful” so there is a chance that he might play). He will be replaced by a rookie 3rd rounder Eli Harold. The other outside linebacker, Aaron Lynch, is coming off of a 2-sack performance against the Green Bay Packers and could give LT Ereck Flowers trouble on the pass rush. Inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman is coming off an ACL injury but one of the best in the game when healthy.

The strength of the secondary are the safeties – Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid – who are very good. And 2014 1st round safety/nickelback Jimmie Ward is coming off of a good game against WR Randall Cobb. Starting corners Tramaine Brock and Kenneth Acker are more suspect however. This could be a game where Odell Beckham puts up some big numbers. If the 49ers focus the bulk of their attention on Beckham, then hopefully Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris will make the 49ers pay just like they did against the Bills.

The 49ers do have one advantage in this game. They just played the Packers who run a very similar offense to what the Giants run. And the 49ers defense kept the game close last week against a very explosive offense. Turnovers can be a great equalizer. The Giants need to keep protecting the football (only two turnovers in four games).

I’d like to see the Giants get on top of the 49ers early with some shots down the field to the wideouts, and then come back to a heavier dose of the run once the G-Men have sucked the life out of San Francisco.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The advantage the Giants have on defense is they are also playing a very similar team this week. Like the Bills, the 49ers are a run-first team with a mobile quarterback. The game plan is the same. Stuff the run. Keep the mobile quarterback (Colin Kaepernick) in the pocket at the expense of the pass rush. He usually can do more harm with his legs than arm. And like last week, the opponent has a dangerous tight end (Vernon Davis) who can hurt you. (Late Note: Vernon Davis will not play due to his knee injury).

The downside for the Giants are the injuries. The team will be without Robert Ayers again. That is exacerbated by the loss of George Selvie, who had been starting at RDE, this week too. The Giants could expand the role of Owamagbe Odighizuwa, but don’t be surprised if they move Cullen Jenkins back to defensive end and start Markus Kuhn, who has been out since the opener, inside again at defensive tackle. The Giants will also be missing one of their best young defenders and pass rushers in Devon Kennard. He will be replaced by a committee that will depend on what defensive package the Giants have in the game. We might see more of Mark Herzlich or even Jasper Brinkley. Keep in mind that Jonathan Casillas is also ailing.

For years, the 49ers have been rock solid up front on the offensive line, but this year they are struggling. And their two best players – left tackle Joe Staley (knee) and left guard Alex Boone (shoulder and ankle) are battling injury issues. The key is stopping San Francisco’s best offensive player: running back Carlos Hyde, who is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Hyde is a big, physical, cutback runner. Reggie Bush is back from injury and he can do damage as a receiver. But the ground game is basically Hyde (62 carries for 282 yards) and Kaepernick (33 carries for 195 yards). Run defense discipline – including against the read option – is critical.

Vernon Davis (knee) returns this week. He’s not the same player he was a few years ago but the Giants always seem to have issues covering the tight end. The ageless Anquan Boldin leads the 49ers in receptions (15), followed by tight end Garrett Celek (11), and deep threat wide receiver Torey Smith (9).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
For the second week in a row, don’t expect much out of the kickoff return game. 85 percent of Bradley Pinion’s kickoffs are not returned (12 touchbacks total already). The 49ers are very good at punt and kickoff coverage to boot. It may be a better strategy for the Giants to come after the punter with a heavy punt block rush.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin on the San Francisco 49ers Offense: “They want to run the ball, they want to play action pass, they want to put the quarterback on the perimeter.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning remain the thread of continuity, but this is a different New York Giants team. The warriors of 2007 and 2011 are virtually all gone. And the weak-kneed players who populated the roster of the last few years have been weeded out. But with change comes the unknown. How will this team respond to success and being heavy favorites? This season can still go in two different directions. We’re about to find out another piece of their psychological makeup.