Oct 122015
 
Share Button
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
 
Share Button
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.

Nov 172014
 
Share Button
Larry Donnell, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Larry Donnell Almost Comes Down with Game-Winner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

San Francisco 49ers 16 – New York Giants 10

Game Overview

It was a tight game and the Giants came very close to pulling off the upset, but this team finds new ways to lose every week.

The 32nd-ranked and now injury-depleted defense played much better this week, good enough to win. Special teams even made plays. But Eli Manning – who came into this contest with only six interceptions – almost doubled that total in a single game with five. And the offensive line was outright dreadful, directly impacting the Giants’ ability to run or throw the football.

Offensive Overview

The Giants scored on their first possession – the first time they have done that in 21 games. It was an impressive 5-play, 63-yard effort that ended with a touchdown.

After that? The Giants had 11 more possessions:

  • Five interceptions.
  • Three Punts.
  • Two turnovers on downs.
  • One field goal.

In a game decided by less than a touchdown, the interceptions proved decisive. One handed the 49ers three points. Three others occurred in San Francisco territory, including the 17- and and 4-yard lines. That’s a 9-point swing right there.

Quarterback

By far, Eli Manning played his worst game of the season, finishing 22-of-45 for 280 yards, 1 touchdown, and 5 interceptions (36.6 quarterback rating).

Was Eli hampered by no running game? Yes. Was he hampered by terrible pass protection? Yes, far worse than the official stats indicate. But this was “bad” Eli at his worst, falling back to some bad habits. He was taking chances with the football instead of taking the sack or throwing the ball away.

Manning made some excellent plays under duress. None better than his 17-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 in the 4th quarter on a play where he should have been sacked as the right side of the line collapsed. Manning also made a superb throw to Rueben Randle on 3rd-and-12 as not one, but two, free blitzers smashed into him. Manning never lost confidence in himself to the bitter end. But he was one of the major reasons – if not THE reason – why the Giants lost the game.

On the first pick, Eli stared down Beckham but you also have to give credit to ILB Chris Borland for making a great jump on the ball. “I thought I could get it in there, the guy jumped it pretty well, the linebacker,” said Manning.

The second pick was bad. The Giants were in field goal range. Manning was focused on Rueben Randle but the corner had him well covered. Eli should have come off that throw and looked for another target. “I had a little quick out, the corner jumped it, tried to pull it back and couldn’t pull it back in time and it went to another defender,” said Manning. In other words, it sounds like Manning decided at the last second to not make the throw but unleashed the football regardless. You can’t do that.

The third pick was a bad overthrow in the direction of Randle. Eli was under immediate pressure and rushed his throw. “I tried to hit a corner route to Rueben, I don’t know if I just overthrew it,” said Manning. “I was on the ground, I didn’t see how it all finished up.”

Pocket collapsing on Manning as he rushes his throw

Pocket collapsing on Manning as he rushes his throw

The pass rush also directly contributed to the fourth interception as RT Charles Brown completely whiffed on the rookie defensive end and Manning was hit as he threw.

Pocket collapses again on Eli on 4th interception

Pocket collapses again on Eli on 4th interception

Running Backs

With Rashad Jennings back after missing four games, it’s pretty safe to say we know where the major problem lies with the running game. It’s the offensive line. Jennings, who surprisingly played 59 snaps, finished the game with 59 yards on 18 carries (3.3 yards per carry). Andre Williams only played nine snaps and had two carries for a total of two yards. Henry Hynoski had one carry for four yards on 3rd-and-1.

Wide Receivers

Rueben Randle had seven catches for a career-high 112 yards. Those are impressive numbers, but also keep in mind that he had 15 passes thrown in his direction. Randle was very sharp early, catching two passes on crossing routes for a total of 38 yards on the team’s lone TD drive. My biggest problem with Randle in the game was his inability to make the game-winning TD catch on 2nd-and-goal from the 4-yard line. There was contact with the defender, but he could have made the play.

So close to winning the game

So close to winning the game

Odell Beckham was largely quiet for three quarters but came on late. He finished with six catches for 93 yards. But like Randle, seven other passes thrown in his direction fell incomplete (including two drops) or were picked off. The highlight of the game was obviously his 37-yard circus catch down to the 4-yard line on what very well could have been the game-winning touchdown drive.

Fans and the media have criticized the play calling on the goal line, but the 49ers loaded up in the box, daring the Giants to make plays on the outside, something New York has done well all year (the Giants are actually one of the NFL’s best red zone teams this year). Two of the fade passes hit the receivers in the hands. They didn’t make the play.

Preston Parker was a non-factor, catching only one pass for nine yards. Corey Washington was on the field for nine offensive snaps but was not thrown to.

Tight Ends

Larry Donnell started off strong, catching three passes for 54 yards in the first half, including a 19-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive. He also made a spectacular 30-yard reception on 3rd-and-4 in the 2nd quarter despite being mugged on the play. But he was held without a catch in the second half. And while it would have been a difficult catch, he had both hands on the 3rd-and-goal potential game-winning touchdown throw with just under five minutes to play. (Though, I personally thought he was also mugged on this play).

A lot of contact by the safety before the ball arrives

A lot of contact by the safety before the ball arrives

Offensive Line

Just dreadful, especially after RT Justin Pugh left the game with a strained quad muscle after only playing eight snaps. His replacement Charles Brown was atrocious, both as a run blocker and pass blocker. Coughin was asked how Brown did. “Not very well,” responded Coughlin. That said, some of Brown’s problems in pass protection were also caused by RG John Jerry’s poor game. Both VETERAN linemen played like they had never seen a stunt before and got in each others way. “We didn’t initially stop the first rusher in order that we could then switch it off,” said Coughlin. “We had too much penetration.”

Once again – for the fifth game in a row – the Giants were out-muscled and out-played up front. The Giants averaged 3.1 yards per carry and the Giants had problems running the ball even when the Niners were playing nickel defense. Rookie ILB Chris Borland gave the Giants fits, not only with his two picks, but his run defense. It’s like he had an invisible cloak as Giants blockers just let him run right by them a number of times, including FB Henry Hynoski and Jerry.

Eli Manning was under constant duress, far worse than the official two sacks and seven quarterback hits indicate. This is especially troublesome when you consider the 49ers were 25th in sack production coming into the game. “There was pressure, sometimes to the point where (Eli) wasn’t going to be able to function if he didn’t release the ball when he did,” said Coughlin a day after reviewing the tape.

Look at these two back-to-back plays on the Giants’ second possession which ended in a three-and-out. Extremely poor blocks by Jerry at right guard led directly to 2nd and 3rd down incompletions.

John Jerry gets beat on incomplete 2nd down pass

John Jerry gets beat on incomplete 2nd down pass (3-man rush on play)

John Jerry gets beat on incomplete 3rd down pass

John Jerry gets beat again on incomplete 3rd down pass

The left side of the offensive line had issues at times as well. On the play before Eli’s second interception, Manning had no time as Weston Richburg failed to pick up the end stunt.

Weston Richburg beaten on stunt by Aldon Smith

Weston Richburg beaten on stunt by Aldon Smith

But the big problem was the right side. Charles Brown and John Jerry were the worst players on the field. Late in the second quarter, rookie linebacker Aaron Lynch literally knocked Brown on his ass and sacked Eli, fortunately the play was wiped out by an illegal holding penalty. At the start of the 3rd quarter, Jerry got beat for a sack/forced fumble. On the very next snap, Brown and Jerry failed to properly pick up a stunt and Eli was sacked again.

Charles Brown and John Jerry fail to pick up stunt and Eli is sacked again

Charles Brown and John Jerry fail to pick up stunt and Eli is sacked again

These are just a few snapshots of the problems. Brown’s play actually deteriorated as the game progressed. By the 4th quarter, the 49ers were simply toying with him. And the offensive line – as an entire unit – just collapsed on New York’s final drive with 1:09 to play. Eli never had a chance.

Center J.D. Walton continues to struggle with big, physical tackles. He was also flagged with a holding penalty, helping to halt the Giants’ last drive right before halftime.

To me, the dreadfulness of this line is encapsulated by its inability to gain an inch of space for Rashad Jennings on the 4th-and-an-inch play in the third quarter. In fact, Jennings actually lost ground on this play. 4th-and-an-inch – perhaps even less than that! The result didn’t shock any of us because we know how bad this line is.

Jennings never had a chance

Jennings never had a chance

Simply too much penetration by safety and defensive lineman

Simply too much penetration by safety and defensive lineman

The screen game was not good either. On one middle screen late in the game, Jerry not only did not blocking anyone, he literally tackled Rashad Jennings.

Defensive Overview

When compared to the terribly poor defensive performance the previous four games (over 400 yards of offense allowed), the Giants defense improved this week by allowing “only” 333 yards (148 yards rushing, 185 yards passing). The more impressive stat was only allowing 16 points (really 13 when you consider that one interception set up the 49ers at the Giants’ 29-yard line).

The 49ers only scored three points off of five New York Giants turnovers.

Not counting the kneel downs, the 49ers had 10 legitimate possessions. They scored nine points on three drives in the first half with another drive ending with an unforced fumble and another with a punt. In the second half, they scored on their opening possession, turned the ball over on downs off a botched field goal, and punted three times.

The one play that really hurt was the 48-yard touchdown catch-and-run by WR Michael Crabtree early in the 3rd quarter.

That said, there issues with the defensive schemes that continue to bug me. On a key 3rd-and-5 play on the 49ers’ first scoring drive, Fewell sent two blitzers (Jameel McClain and Spencer Paysinger) off of the left side and dropped DL Mathias Kiwanuka (playing DT on this snap) into coverage against TE Vernon Davis. As is usually the case, the opposing offense easily recognized and blocked the blitz. Kiwanuka, who should not be called upon to cover a receiver the caliber of Davis, was caught in a chase position. An easy first down was the result.

Giants send two blitzers and drop Kiwanuka

Giants send two blitzers and drop Kiwanuka

Blitz is easily blocked and Kiwanuka is in no position to defend pass

Blitz is easily blocked and Kiwanuka is in no position to defend pass

Defensive Line/Linebackers

The 49ers rushed for 148 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry. They controlled the clock for almost 35 minutes and were a decent 6-of-14 on third down (43 percent). With those numbers, you would expect the 49ers to have generated more points. Not counting the drive where the 49ers started on the Giants 29-yard line (49ers only gained three yards on three plays on this possession), the defense really only allowed three scoring drives: two field goal drives and one touchdown drive.

On these three drives:

  1. First field-goal drive: 49ers running backs gained 29 yards on four carries, the biggest being RB Frank Gore’s 17-yard gain (to the right) – the longest on the day for San Francisco. QB Colin Kaepernick also lost seven yards on a QB run.
  2. Second field-goal drive: The 49ers ran the ball four times for 23 yards with the longest run by a 16 yarder by Gore (to the right). But the Giants’ defense also caused two -1 yard runs on this drive.
  3. Touchdown drive: The 49ers only ran the ball once on this three-play drive, an 11-yard gain by Gore (to the right).

The 49ers did move the ball well on their opening possession, including gaining 47 yards six runs (16 coming on a QB scramble). But the drive ended with an unforced fumble by Gore.

So overall, the 49er running game, though very productive, did not help the 49ers generate a lot of points.

That said, there were some worrisome breakdowns. On the 17-yard gain by Gore on the first scoring drive, the left-side of the defense was nowhere to be found.

Robert Ayers, Mike Patterson, and Mark Herzlich easily washed inside...

Robert Ayers, Mike Patterson, and Mark Herzlich easily washed inside…

opening up the entire left-side of the defense

opening up the entire left-side of the defense

This drive stalled however when Jason Pierre-Paul and Devon Kennard blew up a read option play to the right side of the defense, with Kennard tackling the quarterback for a 7-yard loss. It was a nice play by Pierre-Paul who originally took the bait inside but was athletic enough to re-direct and force Kaepernick into Kennard’s path.

Pierre-Paul and Kennard cause 7-yard loss

Pierre-Paul and Kennard cause 7-yard loss

Really, most of the damage in the running game seemed to come against the left side of the defense and away from Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins. Here we see Gore’s 16-yard gain on the second field goal drive. Mathias Kiwanuka is pushed way inside by #71, Herzlich is blocked by #77, and the TE (#89) takes out Antrel Rolle. (Markus Kuhn was also knocked to the ground). Jameel McClain can’t make the play.

Kuhn, Kiwanuka, Herzlich, and Rolle all effectively taken out of the play

Kuhn, Kiwanuka (by #71), Herzlich (by #77), and Rolle (by #89) all effectively taken out of the play

On the very next play, Kiwanuka has the quarterback dead to rights, but can’t make the play and Colin Kaepernick scrambles for nine yards.

Kiwanuka should nail the QB for a big loss but allows him to get around him

Kiwanuka should nail the QB for a big loss but allows him to get away

The leading tacklers for the Giants were the linebackers: McClain (all 68 defensive snaps, 14 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss), Kennard (55 snaps, 9 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss), and Herzlich (48 snaps, 9 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 pass defense). Herzlich was a bit up and down, but he brought some needed emotion to the team. The trio of McClain-Herzlich-Kennard isn’t a very athletic or speedy group and that showed up on the film. Spencer Paysinger played 13 snaps and had three tackles.

Kiwanuka (64 snaps, 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss) led the defensive line in tackles, but did not play well. Pierre-Paul (64 snaps) only had one tackle but was stouter against the run. DE/DT Robert Ayers (39 snaps) finished with 2 tackles, 1 sack (the only by the Giants), 1 QB hit, and 1 tackle for a loss. DE Damontre Moore (18 snaps) had the Giants only other QB hit as New York only officially hit Kaepernick in the pocket twice. The Giants pass rush was obviously not good on Sunday.

Johnathan Hankins (54 snaps, 2 tackles), Mike Patterson (35 snaps, 3 tackles), and Markus Kuhn (18 snaps, 2 tackles rotated at defensive tackle and did not really stand out. Jay Bromley was available but did not play.

Defensive Backs

The 49ers were limited to 193 yards passing as Colin Kaepernick only completed 15-of-29 passes. 48 of those yards came on their lone touchdown of the game. The 49ers only had two offensive plays over 20 yards.

On the long touchdown throw, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (41 snaps, 2 tackles, 2 pass defenses) was beat by WR Michael Crabtree to the inside for an intermediate gain. But the real problem was S Quintin Demps was caught badly out of position and failed to prevent the long score.

Crabtree beats DRC to the inside but Demps is way out of position, failing to prevent long TD

Crabtree beats DRC to the inside but Demps is way out of position, failing to prevent long TD

The other big negative play was a 35-yard pass interference penalty on 2nd-and-18 by Rodgers-Cromartie, who continues to be plagued by IT band issue that limits his snaps and affects his play. The pass interference penalty helped to set up San Francisco’s first field goal. The announcers felt interference should not have been called, but DRC did not help his case by turning around for the football. Early in the game, Rodgers-Cromartie made a nice play by defeating a block and knocking away a pass on a bubble screen. He also knocked down a 2nd-and-11 pass near the goal line in the 2nd quarter. Late in the 2nd quarter, WR Michael Crabtree beat DRC for a 25-yard gain, the only other long pass play.

Zack Bowman (48 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) played more than any other corner. Newcomer Chykie Brown (30 snaps, 3 tackles, 1 pass defense) saw more action than Jayron Hosley (20 snaps) and actually played pretty well. Brown had nice coverage on a deep shot to TE Vernon Davis after Eli’s first interception and later made an excellent play by diving and knocking away a 3rd-and-11 pass intended for Crabtree.

Antrel Rolle (6 tackles) and Demps (4 tackles) played all 68 snaps. Stevie Brown played 17 snaps but did not show up on the stat sheet. Safety play is killing the Giant this year. Rolle has been just OK and Demps and Brown have been below average.

Special Teams

The Giants special teams performed well in this game.

The Giants surprised everyone in the 3rd quarter with an onside kick that PK Josh Brown made possible by forcing the 49er who was in the process of securing the ball to fumble. Mark Herzlich also deserves credit for ripping the ball away.

Brown had two other kickoffs, one resulting in a touchback and the other returned 26 yards after a holding penalty was enforced.

Brown remains perfect on the season on field goals, hitting from 43 yards out in this contest.

Steve Weatherford punted three times, averaging 43 yards per punt (40.3 net).

Preston Parker returned five kickoffs, with a long of 38 yards. He reached the 22, 25, 29, 22, and 41 on his five returns.

Odell Beckham returned three punts for 39 yards, with the long being a 25 yarder.

Damontre Moore made a dumb play with a late block on a punt return.

The Giants had good coverage on the botched field goal where the holder attempted to complete a pass down field (good awareness by both McClain and Herzlich).

(San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, November 16, 2014)
Nov 162014
 
Share Button
Eli Manning, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Five Interceptions for Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The opportunity was there.

With five minutes to play and the New York Giants trailing the San Francisco 49ers by six, Eli Manning and the offense had a first and goal at the San Francisco four yard line.

In spite of Manning’s then four interceptions, the lack of a running game and continued offensive dysfunctions, the team was still in a position to win. It needed just four yards in four plays.

New York didn’t get a yard before Manning was intercepted on fourth down, all but sealing the deal on the team’s 16-10 loss Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford.

“Four shots from the four yard line,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It’s inexcusable that we didn’t score.”

Throughout the game’s entirety, the calm, cool and collected Manning that had taken the field for New York’s previous nine games was no where to be found. Manning missed passes low, high, inside and out. Coughlin said Manning was dealing with “accuracy issues” and the quarterback’s play made it abundantly clear.

Manning, who entered the game having thrown six interceptions all season, was intercepted five times, three of which when targeting Rueben Randle. He completed just 22-of-45 passes for 280 yards.

“You’re not going to win a game turning the ball over five times,” Coughlin said. “I can guarantee you that.”

Early in the game, it appeared as if the game was headed in the complete opposite direction as what it ended up. On the Giants first possession, Manning marched New York 63 yards in five plays before finding tight end Larry Donnell for a 19-yard touchdown. The drive was set up when Zack Bowman recovered a Frank Gore fumble.

But after New York’s touchdown, the offense went cold. The team’s ensuing drives resulted in  a punt, two interceptions and two more punts before finally getting on the scoreboard with a Josh Brown field goal in the third quarter. With the Giants offense in a rut, San Francisco did just enough to win the game.

Following Gore’s fumble, the 49ers kicked three consecutive field goals to go on top, 9-7. On their first drive of the second half, quarterback Colin Kaepernick hit receiver Michael Crabtree on a slant. The former first-round pick burst through the center of the Giants defense for a 48-yard score.

New York answered with Brown’s field goal, but were unable to put any additional points on the board after. Manning was intercepted for a fourth time at the San Francisco 20, but the most back-breaking pick came with New York deep inside 49er territory.

Starting at their own 35 with 6:18 to play, Manning marched the Giants quickly into San Francisco territory. On second down at the 49er 41, Manning went deep to Odell Beckham Jr. down the right sideline. The rookie made a leaping grab to set New York up at the four. On first down, Manning threw a fade to Beckham that was out of reach. On second down, Manning threw a fade to Randle which fell in complete. On third down, Manning threw a fade to Larry Donnell who landed hard on his shoulder and dropped the ball. On fourth down, Manning forced the ball inside to Preston Parker. As the ball hit Parker’s hands, the receiver was hit and the ball popped up and into the arms of San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland.

“We need to bounce back,” Coughlin said. “Now we’ve had a defensive fiasco, we’ve had an offensive fiasco. Perhaps maybe now we’ll be able to go out and put something together.”

The loss for New York drops its record to 3-7. It faces the Dallas Cowboys at home next Sunday night.

—-

Quick Hits and Tidbits

  • The Giants lost their fifth consecutive game to fall to 3-7. It is their worst record after 10 games since 1998, when they were also 3-7 and finished 8-8.
  • Inactive for New York were cornerback Mike Harris, linebacker Jacquian Williams (concussion), guard Adam Snyder, defensive end Kerry Wynn, offensive tackle James Brewer, offensive guard Brandon Mosley and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (calf). Mike Patterson started for Jenkins and Mark Herzlich for Williams.
  • Offensive tackle Justin Pugh left the game with a quad injury and did not return. Speaking after the game, Coughlin said Pugh originally hurt his quad in last week’s game against Seattle, but practiced fully all week. It acted up against San Francisco.
  • Receivers Rueben Randle and Preston Parker each left the game at various points in time with ailments. Both returned and were said to be fine after the game.
  • Of Manning’s interceptions, three were intended for Randle. Two were intercepted by Chris Borland, one by Michael Wilhoite, one by Chris Culliver and one by Eric Reid.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. finished with six catches for 93 yards. Rueben Randle caught seven passes for 112.
  • Earlier in the week, Coughlin spoke about how he wanted his “big players” to make “big plays.” The comment was in response to a question about Jason Pierre-Paul. On Sunday, Pierre-Paul had one tackle. Receiver Preston Parker had two.
  • Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. recorded a sack bringing his season total to five. Since the start of last season, Ayers has 10.5 sacks. In his first four seasons, he had 6.5.
  • The San Francisco 49ers rushed for 148 yards on the Giants defense and averaged 4.0 yards per carry.
  • The Giants recovered an onside kick in the third quarter, their first successful onside kick since Nov. 7, 2004 vs. Chicago.

—-

Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s Post Game Press Conference: The transcript and video of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s post-game press conference are available at Giants.com.

Post-Game Player Media Q&As: Transcripts and video of post-game media sessions with the following players are available at Giants.com:

Video highlights/lowlights of the game are available at Giants.com.

Nov 142014
 
Share Button
Steve Weatherford, New York Giants (January 22, 2012)

Steve Weatherford – © USA TODAY Sports Images

San Francisco 49ers at New York Giants, November 16, 2014

The New York Giants once promising three-game winning streak seems like a far distant memory as the 2014 season is beginning to seemed headed for a very familiar path. With the San Francisco 49ers coming to MetLife Sunday afternoon, a loss could all but eliminate the Giants from postseason contention for a third consecutive year.

FOUR DOWNS:

First Down
Can Odell Beckham Jr. continue to be special?
Odell Beckham Jr. is looking like he could be arguably the best player selected in the 2014 NFL Draft. In his last two games, Beckham has 254 receiving yards and, despite playing in just five games overall, could become the Giants leading receiver this week.  The 49ers are another tough task defensively, especially if Aldon Smith dresses. How will Beckham play?

Second Down
Can Rashad Jennings make an impact if he returns?
Since Rashad Jennings suffered a knee sprain versus the Atlanta Falcons, the Giants have yet to win a game. Andre Williams has shown promise, but is far from a feature back at this point in his career. Peyton Hillis is what he is and Michael Cox is now on injured reserve. When Rashad Jennings left the Giants lineup, so to did their rushing attack. Jennings is expected to return this Sunday, but will he make an impact? He hasn’t played in a month. How much can he handle?

The Giants have been known, at least as of late, to not baby players in their first game back (i.e., Beckham and Andre Brown). Will the Giants lean on Jennings heavily as well?

Jason Pierre-Paul (90), Justin Tuck (91), New York Giants (January 22, 2012)

Pierre-Paul and Tuck – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Third Down
Where is Jason Pierre-Paul?
This is Jason Pierre-Paul’s contract season. The season where players normally break out. While Pierre-Paul has been stout against the run, the fierce pass-rushing, unblockable, first-team All-Pro from 2011 still hasn’t taken the field. He’s flashed, sure, but has yet to do it on a consistent basis. This season, he’s on pace for under seven sacks (6.2).

Fourth Down
Can the defense stop the read option?
It’s coming, you can better believe that. Back when Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, he did it by unleashing the read option. If anything, the Seattle Seahawks, who ran for 350 yards against New York last week, learned a thing or two from San Fran. Kaepernick is faster than Russell Wilson and is a better runner. Can Perry Fewell’s defense keep him contained? If not, New York has very little chance to win.

BREAKING DOWN SAN FRANCISCO:

OFFENSE – by Connor Hughes
Strength?
While Kaepernick hasn’t taken the “next step” as an elite passer in the NFL, it isn’t for lack of targets. Be it the receivers, or tight end, the 49ers have some of the best weapons in the NFL. At Kaepernick’s disposal this year are Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Vernon Davis.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should be able to handle whomever he lines up from, but those after? The Giants cornerback position, which was once one of the deepest in the NFL, is dangerously thin. Not to mention, who will cover TE Vernon Davis?

While the game plan will be to shut down the 49ers running game, containing the pass is another must for New York. If one gets going, the other is sure to follow. The Giants can’t put a ton of small bodies on the field because the 49ers will then run the ball. They can’t come out in their base constantly as the 49ers will pass.

Sunday is a very, very tough test for the Giants.

Weakness?
Since dazzling the NFL his first year seeing extensive action, Kaepernick has struggled at times with San Francisco. His decision making has been questionable, his accuracy subpar and Kaepernick has struggled getting off his first read.

Kaepernick has thrown 13 interceptions in his last 25 games. He completed 58 percent of his passes last year, and 61.9 this year. He’s averaged just 7.69 and 7.50 yards per completion sine 2010.

DEFENSE by Eric Kennedy
Strength?
A week after playing the NFL’s 4th-best defense, it doesn’t getting any easier this week with the Giants facing the 3rd-best defense in terms of yards allowed (5th against pass and 7th against the run). The strength of this 3-4 defense team remains the front seven with stalwarts such as LDE Ray McDonald, RDE Justin Smith, and outside linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith. Rookie inside linebacker Chris Borland has been exceptional.

That all said, don’t discount the secondary. The safeties have been excellent. Free safety Eric Reid is fast developing into one of the best in the game. Ex-Colt strong safety Antoine Bethea is having an excellent season.

Weakness?
It’s not so much a “weakness” as the corners simply are not as strong as other areas of the defense. Also, the 49ers lost their nose tackle last week, but Glenn Dorsey returns this week after a preseason biceps injury.

The biggest weakness to date has been the 49ers are 25th in the NFL in sacks. Getting Aldon Smith back from suspension should improve their pass rush however.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Connor Hughes –
Colin Kaepernick
While not as efficient as a passer, Kaepernick is a far better runner than Seattle’s Russell Wilson. After struggling against Seattle, how will the Giants defend Kaepernick? It’ll be an interesting test for the Giants and it’ll be fun to watch how Fewell elects to defend it.

Eric Kennedy –
Rashad Jennings
For the Giants to have a chance in this game, the need the running game to be more productive. That will be difficult against one of the NFL’s best run defenses. Plus Jennings is still not 100 percent and likely to be rusty. Still, he should be a shot in the arm to the offense and might make a bigger impact as a receiver.

FROM THE COACHES’ MOUTH:

Tom Coughlin – “(The 49ers) are going to run. That is their deal. They are going to set things up with the run. You have to be very, very good and very, very strong. We need turnovers. We need field position.”

Jim Harbaugh – “(Against the Seahawks, the Giants) got hit on a couple quarterback-sucker plays and a few zone-read keepers by the quarterback that amounted to some big yardage. I anticipate that will be fixed by the time we play.”

FINAL WORD:

Connor Hughes – It’s truly mind-boggling how injury depleted the Giants have been over the last few years, but this year is even more than most. The Giants are without nearly half their starting lineup and truthfully, I don’t believe they have enough to stick with San Francisco for four quarters.  New York will keep it close, but in the end, the 49ers pull it out. San Fransisco 28 – New York 20.

Eric Kennedy – It makes little sense to pick the Giants in this spot but I think New York rebounds with a win this week. I expect the 49ers to come into this game overconfident, and two back-to-back cross-country road trips should take some life out of them. The San Francisco win against the Saints in New Orleans was impressive, but the 49ers have been a bit shaky this year. Much depends on which version of Colin Kaepernick shows up. When he is “on”, he can make some unbelievable throws, especially outside of the pocket. But when Kaepernick is “off”, he can be really bad. Pray for the latter this weekend. Giants 24 – 49ers 13.