SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Francisco 49ers achieved a 30:12 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday night, and while the 49ers may not have looked unbeatable, they did more than enough to handle a struggling opponent.
The Giants held on until the fourth quarter when the Niners put the ball away late. Here’s what you should know about each team’s performance:
San Francisco 49ers
It wasn’t always pretty and it wasn’t as easy as the end result suggests, but the 49ers took care of business.
In a short week, the Niners were without an injured receiver Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder), fought his way through to victory. While the Giants were shorthanded in their second West Coast Swing game, the 49ers have no reason to apologize for another win as San Francisco escaped 3-0 for just the second time in the last 25 years.
But if this win taught anything, it’s that Aiyuk’s value to the Niners shouldn’t be discounted. The Giants entered this game having blitzed more than any other team in the league since the start of 2022. They lived up to this reputation and tirelessly sent additional rushers to the 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy.
Those blitzes proved effective in the first half, as they not only put Purdy under pressure, but also caused him to miss the target and forced Niners coach Kyle Shanahan to resort to more screens and quick passes instead of the intermediate routes , which he often prefers.
Aiyuk would have made a difference here. Dating back to the start of last season, Aiyuk has 50 catches (tied for 8th in the NFL) for 679 yards (tied for 9th) against man coverage. No one on the Niners beats man coverage more consistently or faster than Aiyuk.
There was a wideout in the second half Deebo Samuel (six catches for 129 yards and one touchdown) and tight end George Kittle (seven receptions for 90 yards) helped close the gap, and the Niners’ defense dominated the Giants.
Of course, the 49ers did the right thing and kept Aiyuk, whom they would like to sign to a contract extension in the offseason, out Thursday night so he could use the extra rest to get healthy for the long haul. But his absence should also just underscore how much they value him for the rest of this season. And beyond.
QB breakdown: With defenders constantly harassing him, Purdy had a bit of an odd night, although his final numbers were quite good. Purdy finished 25 of 37 for 310 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 111.3. Purdy put the ball in danger a few times and was lucky to avoid turnovers in the first half, but he was outstanding in the third period and was brought on as a substitute late in the game. It wasn’t his best performance, but Purdy is now one of only four quarterbacks to begin a career with at least eight consecutive regular-season wins in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).
Purdy was blitzed on 74% of his dropbacks, the highest blitz rate experienced by a QB with 30 dropbacks since Colin Kaepernick in 2013 (88% vs. Cardinals). The 29 blitzes Purdy faced were more than double his previous high (14). Purdy’s 236 passing yards against the Lightning were the most by a passer since then Aaron Rodgers in 2021.
Worrying trend: The Niners entered the night with the fifth-most penalties in the league and did nothing to assuage those concerns against the Giants. San Francisco finished the game with six penalties for 71 yards, including two for 37 yards that set up New York’s first touchdown of the game.
Amazing statistics: After scoring a four-yard run in the first half, the Niners ran back Christian McCaffrey has now scored a touchdown in 12 consecutive games (including playoffs), tying Jerry Rice for the longest streak in franchise history. Lenny Moore holds the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown, including playoffs, with 17. – Nick Wagoner
Next game: vs. Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, October 1)
New York Giants
This wasn’t a no-contest like the 40-0 opening loss to Dallas. The Giants stayed within one score until the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, they couldn’t beat the more talented 49ers, especially after returning a few balls and incurring costly penalties against them. But it wasn’t for lack of effort. The Giants would have had to play a perfect game to win on the road in prime time without four starters (running backs). Saquon Barkleyleft tackle Andrew Thomasleft guard Ben Bredeson and outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari). They didn’t, as expected.
A premium will now be placed on the home game against them on Monday, October 2nd Seattle Seahawks, a game New York may have had its eye on. That was always what they needed to win to survive this early gauntlet. Splitting up their trip to the West Coast (win in Arizona, loss in San Francisco) is hardly a burden.
Decisive game: The rough penalty against the Giants defender Leonard Williams 1:51 left in the second quarter. San Francisco had a third-and-12 and led 10-3 at the Giants’ 20-yard line with just under two minutes left in the half. Williams beat his man and hit Purdy as the ball was released. The penalty was likely given because Williams landed all of his weight on Purdy. It was a game-changing decision because it gave San Francisco a first-and-goal instead of a fourth down. McCaffrey scored a six-yard touchdown on the very next play to make it 17-3.
Bold prediction for next week: The Giants play on Monday night, and that gives Barkley and his high ankle sprain another 11 days to get back in order. But… he still won’t be ready. We’ve seen this story before. Barkley always wants to play and is pushing to get back sooner than expected. However, it is in his interest – and the team’s interest – to ensure the standout running back is in the right spot before his return.
Amazing statistics: The 49ers converted a third-and-15 and a third-and-13 on-screen passes on the same drive in the second quarter. It ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass Ronnie Bell and a 10-3 lead. In the first two weeks of the season, 25 screen passes were attempted on third down and 10+. As of Thursday night, only one had been converted for a first down. — Jordan Raanan
Next game: vs. Seahawks (8:15 p.m. ET, October 2)