Three Giants writers give their takeaways from Sunday's loss to the 49ers:
In this week's Cover 3, our writers give their reaction and takeaways from Sunday's 31-21 loss to the 49ers.
The Giants' defense has to get its act together if anything is going to change. The 49ers had 474 yards, including 186 on the ground. The 49ers were officially 8 of 12 on third down, but it was really 8 of 10 because two non-conversions were on plays at the end of the game when the 49ers were simply trying to run out the clock. The 49ers had four pass plays of 20 yards or more and three runs of 20 yards or more. C.J. Beathard had 288 passing yards on just 19 completions. The 49ers didn't punt the ball until the fourth quarter when they were running out the clock. Clearly, mistakes were made in other phases, but until the defense gets better, not much else will matter.
Like last week's decisive defeat at the hands of the Rams, Sunday's loss to the winless 49ers speaks for itself. There is no way to tiptoe around the Giants' eighth loss in nine outings, and you heard a lot of blunt answers to a lot of blunt questions in the bowels of Levi's Stadium after the game.
From Ben McAdoo: "They outplayed us today. They outcoached me today."
From offensive captain Eli Manning: "We're the reason we're in [this situation]."
From defensive captain Jonathan Casillas: "We're not a good team right now. Hopefully, we can turn this around to be competitive. It's sad that I'm sitting here talking about us not competing in games instead of winning, but that's the truth."
It's still kind of hard to wrap your head around such a precipitous decline for a team with deep playoff aspirations heading into the season. But that's life in the NFL. Consistency, year in and year out, remains the hardest thing to achieve in this league, both individually and collectively.
Sunday's game against the Niners had several similarities to last week's against the Rams. For one, in both contests, the defense struggled to prevent explosive plays. In Week 9 against Los Angeles, the Rams recorded seven plays of 20 or more yards, two of which resulted in touchdowns. A week later, San Francisco produced six plays of that kind, highlighted by three scores. Thanks to those explosive plays, which came on the ground and through the air, both the Rams and Niners broke open their respective games. Just like L.A., San Francisco also had great success on the ground as the Niners ran for 186 yards and averaged nearly six yards per carry. That's a big reason why the Niners converted eight of their 12 third down opportunities (67 percent), which was quite a turnaround from their 32 percent success rate entering Sunday's contest.
When you take those factors into consideration, that's why San Francisco's production across the board was way beyond its season averages. The Niners had nearly 500 total yards of offense and turned that into 31 points. To put that in perspective, San Francisco entered Week 10 averaging 309 yards (24th in NFL) and 16 points (30th). In addition, Niners punter Bradley Pinion entered the game as the NFL leader with 52 punts. He was needed just once against the Giants. In the span of two weeks, the Giants' defense has faced one of the best offenses in the league and another near the bottom of the rankings -- yet it yielded similar results.
The defense's struggles have put more pressure on the offense and special teams to play mistake-free football, which is why the lone turnover on offense (Eli Manning lost a fumble) and one Aldrick Rosas missed field goal get magnified. While Evan Engram continued to produce and the Giants ran the ball for over 100 yards for the fourth time in the last five games, when the defense has a hard time making stops and getting off the field, even those few bright spots are overshadowed.