49ers vs. Giants score, takeaways: Deebo Samuel monster night fuels San Francisco to win, 3-0 start to season
The versatile wideout was the difference on Thursday night
The Giants pulled off a miracle against the Cardinals in Week 2, overcoming a 21-point second-half lead to avoid a winless start to the season. They were unable to muster that same magic on Thursday night, however, as New York couldn't rally and fell 30-12 to the 49ers.
There was one main difference between the 49ers and Giants, and it was a glaring one. While the Saquon Barkley-less Giants are devoid of playmakers, the 49ers have several, including former All-Pro wideout Deebo Samuel, who caught six passes for 129 yards on Thursday night that included the game-clinching touchdown.
Samuel's brilliance was flanked by the 49ers' other offensive stars. Christian McCaffrey tallied 119 total yards whileby scoring a touchdown in 12 consecutive games. George Kittle caught seven passes for 90 yards. Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns while improving to 8-0 as the 49ers' starting quarterback during the regular season.
The 49ers' offense was good, but their defense was just as impressive on Thursday night. Led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa, the 49ers' defense held the Giants' offense to just 10 first downs and 150 total yards.
Here's a closer look at how the 49ers improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2019.
Why the 49ers won
As noted above, the 49ers' star players took center stage. San Francisco also received solid contributions from less-heralded players in running back Elijah Mitchell and rookie wideout Ronnie Bell, who caught his first career pass -- which was also the go-ahead touchdown on Thursday night -- while helping fill the void left by Brandon Aiyuk's injury.
The 49ers' talent on offense allowed them to have significant success on third down. San Francisco was 8 of 10 on third down in the first half and a perfect 3 of 3 on third down on its go-ahead scoring drive. Conversely, the 49ers' defense held the Giants to just 3 of 12 on third down. The defense put consistent pressure on Daniel Jones while not allowing him to complete anything downfield.
Why the Giants lost
New York simply couldn't keep pace with the deeper 49ers, who haven't lost a regular-season game since Week 7 of the 2022 season. Brain Daboll's team battled, though, and were within striking distance of the heavily-favored Niners until Samuel's game-clinching score with 5:58 left.
Offensively, the Giants' offensive line struggled to give Jones extended time in the pocket, which contributed to the Giants' struggles on possession downs. The Giants' issues in pass protection can be attributed to the fact that they were without injured starters Ben Bredeson and Andrew Thomas. Their absence may also be part of the reason why the Giants ran the ball just 11 times, the fewest attempts for a Giants club since 1989.
Defensively, the Giants put on a clinic on how not to tackle, as they struggled to get Samuel, Kittle and McCaffrey to the ground after initial contact.
Down 17-6 at halftime, the Giants made it a five-point game when Matt Breida barreled into the end zone less than four minutes into the third quarter. But after forcing a 49ers punt on San Francisco's opening drive of the second half, the Giants' defense allowed three consecutive scoring drives following Breida's score.
While the 49ers added to their lead, the Giants' offense went three-and-out on back-to-back drives.
Play of the game
There's a lot to choose from, but the Samuel play we picked was his 27-yard touchdown catch that iced the game. On the play, Samuel executed a perfect stutter step before pulling down Purdy's pass.
"What we built back then in 2019, we still have a foundation of that core group. ... Our standard every single day is to be physical and to get better every single day. That's just our mindset. We had that in '19. We've tried to have it every single year, but this year, we've just focused on it and we kind of have more of a vet team that we've had in years past. So guys are used to Kyle Shanahan's offense and our defense and just our standard. That's what you're seeing early on." Kittle on Amazon Prime when comparing the 49ers' 2019 NFC championship squad to San Fran's current team.
The 49ers, who are 3-0 for the first time since their 2019 Super Bowl season, will host the Cardinals in an NFC West showdown. San Francisco won both games against Arizona last year by a combined score of 76-23.
New York will host the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night in a matchup between two teams that made the playoffs last season. Seattle, 1-1 through two games, will face the winless Panthers this Sunday.
Less than ideal:
Up next for San Francisco is the Arizona Cardinals, while the Giants will host the Seattle Seahawks next week.
So, the 49ers are going to improve to 3-0. It will be up to the Eagles and Cowboys to keep pace with them this weekend. The Giants, meanwhile, will drop to 1-2, falling further into the basement of the NFC East, where everyone else is undefeated.
Charvarius Ward got his hand in there to break up that pass to Darren Waller, which popped it into the air. Talanoa Hufanga comes away with the pick and the Niners are just going to try to ice the clock now.
The Giants tried to use the fact that the Niners are teeing off with the pass rush against them, but the corner to the side of the screen read it perfectly and blew the whole thing up.
The Giants have blitzed Brock Purdy more than half as many times tonight (33) as he was blitzed all of last regular season (61).
And now Deebo beats Adoree' Jackson for a back-shoulder touchdown to extend the lead to three scores. That'll probably do it, given how little success the Giants have had moving the ball tonight.
San Francisco has been dynamite on third down tonight. 8 of 14 now. Just continually keeping drives alive.
Deebo Samuel went down after that long catch-and-run. Couldn't tell if he got the wind knocked out of him or had someone roll up on his shoulder as he went to the ground. Either way, less than ideal for SF with Brandon Aiyuk already out tonight.
There was a bunch of confusion on the back end of the SF defense on that third down, and it resulted in Darren Waller being wide open. Daniel Jones missed just high with the throw, and Waller couldn't haul it in. That's a play that needs to be made by both of those guys and they couldn't do it.
With the Niners back up two scores, the pass rushers are again in position to just totally get after it. The Giants' OL has not been able to contain them all night and this is not an advantageous situation for those guys right now.
The Giants' defense has let San Francisco move the ball pretty well (and helped the Niners out with a bunch of penalties) but has done a good job of shutting things down in the red zone. Third time the Niners have had to settle for a field goal after making it inside the 20.
The Giants gave up big games on the ground to both Tony Pollard in Week 1 (14-70-2) and James Conner in Week 2 (23-106-1), and Christian McCaffrey and Co, are having a decent amount of success running on them here in Week 3. SF has 26 carries for 110 yards. The average isn't elite, but the Niners are consistently gaining ground with the run.
Jones tried to throw that one to Waller off his back foot, for some reason. If he fired it in there Waller would have had a better chance of catching it. Waller tried to use some hand-fighting to give himself some space but couldn't get turned around in time.
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