In Week 10 of the 2011 regular, the 49ers hosted Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Candlestick Park. The 6-2 Giants were fresh off a big win against the New England Patriots going into their match-up versus the 7-1 49ers.
At this point in the season, there was already no doubt that the Niners had the best run D on a defense that wasn't giving up a lot of points. One of the notable roster moves for this game was that Braylon Edwards was active and starting at wide receiver.
Like many of the 49ers match-ups prior, their opponent began the game with the ball on offense. Two consecutive runs to start the game put New York in a 3rd and 6, with stops by Ray McDonald and Patrick Willis. On third down, Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks picked up the first down on a gain of 9 on out route - Eli Manning caught the 49ers in zone playing soft.
Isaac Sopoaga beasted through multiple blockers, getting pressure up the middle, and forced Manning to get rid of it to the tailback for no gain. Mario Manningham then made a catch on a stop-route for a first down with Carlos Rogers on the coverage. Brandon Jacobs followed that up with a gain of 6 before he was stopped by Justin Smith.
Manningham beat Rogers again; good for another 5 yards on a reception.
The Giants continued to move the ball downfield with a short pass to Ware, showing a balanced drive against one of the league's best defenses. New York ran Jacobs twice up the gut in the 49ers red zone for only a gain of a few.
On third down, a short pass to Victor Cruz was stopped by Donte Whitner who charged, wrapped Cruz up and ripped the football out, which was recovered by Justin Smith. However, the referees ruled that Cruz's forward progress was stopped and it was not a fumble; the Giants netted 3 points to take the lead.
On first down, starting from their own 20-yard line, Alex Smith hit tight end Delanie Walker for 11 yards and a first down on the right sideline. But a Joe Staley false start backed the Niners up on the next play, right after they earned a fresh set of downs.
With good protection, Smith went deep down the right sideline to link up with Edwards for a 21-yard completion. Smith had time in the pocket and was able to hit his receiver on a deep back shoulder stop-route.
With more good protection inside, Smith stepped up and threw one over the middle in a small area for a completion to Ted Ginn Jr. to convert on a third down. On 2nd and 12, Smith hit Edwards for a short gain to bring up a third and manageable. On 3rd and 3, Smith shimmied in the pocket, stepped up, and checked down to Gore; avoiding the sack and picking up the first down.
Though, after two incompletions in Giants territory, the 49ers couldn't convert on 3rd and 10 and San Francisco settled for a David Akers attempt that tied it at 3.
The Giants got the ball back and continued to chip away with their big back, Jacobs, getting short to intermediate runs out of him.
On 2nd and 3, Manning found Cruz for a 21-yard catch and run. Cruz had beat cornerback Carlos Rogers, working the middle of the field for a Giants first down. Jacobs was then stuffed by Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. A connection from Manning to Manningham went for 13 yards and a first down. Manning had pressure in his face from Justin Smith but miraculously got the ball out regardless.
Manning found Manningham again on the following play for another 14 yards on a quick release. Eli Manning started the game 10 for 10 against the San Francisco defense. On 3rd and 1 in the 49ers zone, Jacobs picked up the first down on a run right.
After an incompletion to Manningham, Justin Smith ran down Jacobs for no gain to force a third and long for New York. Manning hit his tight end Jake Ballard but Rogers made the tackle for a short gain and the Giants had to settle for a field goal - another good red zone stop by the 49ers.
Lawrence Tynes made it 6-3 in favor of New York.
A 1st and 5 strike to Michael Crabtree went for 21-yards and a 49ers first down in Giants territory. Crabtree lined up as the flanker, had Ted Ginn Jr. running through middle of the coverage, opening it up for No. 15 to come underneath.
On the next play, an offensive pass interference call on Crabtree negated the following gain he had for a first down, and put the Niners in a 2nd and 17. Gore couldn't seem to get anything going, getting hit for a loss of four. And on 3rd and 21, Smith did manage to hit Edwards for a gain of 17, but it was short of the first down.
Akers came on for a FG attempt and it was good from 52-yards to make it 6-6.
The 49ers surprised the Giants with an onside kick with 5:00 left in the first half and Akers hit it beautifully. Delanie Walker was in perfect to position to leap and recover the football for San Francisco with the Giants caught off guard.
On first down, Smith hit Ginn for a gain of 9 - a toe tapper on the right sideline. On 3rd and 1, Smith went to Walker over the middle, showing patience under pressure, trusting his receiver would get open and converting on third down.
Unfortunately, Linval Joseph put a spin move on Adam Snyder, who came free up the middle and sacked Smith for a loss of 8 on 2nd down. On 3rd and 17, Smith read through his progressions but tucked the ball and scrambled for a medium gain to make it a closer field goal attempt.
Akers hit from 39-yards to give the 49ers a 9-6 lead.
With Aldon Smith rushing off the edge, Manning went downfield to a wide open Victor Cruz and it was dropped because he was looking up field before he made the catch. The following play, Aldon came off the edge again getting pressure and Manning went back to Cruz on the very same route. Only this time Rogers undercut the route and made the interception with 1:28 before halftime.
Smith avoided a sack and threw short to Vernon Davis for a small gain. With the middle of the field wide open, Smith ran up field and picked up big yardage and a first down. The Giants were in man-to-man and everyone was either deep down field or behind him.
Smith fired a dart to Ted Ginn Jr. but it bounced off the receiver's hands and was intercepted by Corey Webster; the 49ers couldn't capitalize on the Rogers pick.
On play action, Smith completed to Walker on a timing route for 14 yards and a first down. After Gore struggled, Hunter began to get carries and his first in the second half went for a first down, as the rookie weaved through traffic.
Smith fired again and hit Ginn for a first down on the right sideline. After that, Smith hung tight in the pocket and waited for Walker to get open on the shallow crossing route, hitting him in stride, where Walker broke a tackle and cut up field for a gain of 18 and a first down.
Three straight incompletions (one to Crabtree and twice to Edwards) from the Giants 10-yard line resulted in another FG attempt by Akers. With this one, Akers went 4 for 4 on the day, giving the 49ers a 12-6 lead over the Giants.
On the following 3rd and 4 for the Giants, Bowman picked up a Jacobs block, freeing Willis to have a clear lane to Manning, sacking him on third down for a loss of 9.
But the Giants had their payback. On the 49ers next third down, Smith was drilled by Osi Umenyiora as he let it go and the 49ers had to punt.
The Giants chipped away with Jacobs on first and second down. On 3rd and 7, Aldon rushed in but Manning launched it down the left sideline to Cruz, who had a few steps on Rogers, making the completion for a big first down by the Giants who were now in 49ers territory.
Jacobs then took a handoff for another 15 yards inside the 49ers 30, giving New York a fresh set of downs. A catch and run by tight end Bear Pascoe got the Giants another chunk of yardage to get inside the 49ers 20. On 3rd and 5, Manning went to Manningham over Chris Culliver in the end zone, and it was caught for a touchdown to give the Giants a 13-12 lead.
Jim Harbaugh challenged but the call stood as a touchdown.
Noticeably, combinations of Justin Tuck, Osi
Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul were getting pressure on Alex Smith and Joe Staley was particularly struggling against J.P.P. and Umenyiora. The 49ers didn't hang on to the ball long before they bring out Andy Lee to punt.
But the 49ers defense stood tough and forced a three and out. The rookie Aldon Smith was coming in and applying pressure, having forced Manning out of the pocket where he is less accurate. The defensive packages that featured Smith were observably generating more pressure.
The 49ers handed off to Hunter for a medium gain to start the drive and end the quarter.
At this point, Gore had 6 rushes for 0 yards and was on the sideline with a jacket on.
On third and short, the 49ers shifted in a heavy set package, which drew Dave Tolleffson offside to get the first down. A 6-yard gain by Kendall Hunter on a first down run followed.
On 2nd and 4, Smith found a wide open Vernon Davis on a shallow crossing route; Davis took it up field on the busted coverage, hopping from the 4-yard line into the air, colliding with Giants safety Kenny Phillips and into the end zone for the touchdown.
The attempt at the 2 pt. conversion followed: Crabtree started in the backfield with Hunter in split back formation; Crabtree then motioned out of the backfield, Smith snapped it, stepped right and delivered a strike to Crabtree for the conversion near the right pylon. The 49ers went up 20-13 on the visiting Giants.
On 2nd and 7, Manning went deep down the middle and Rogers made a diving interception, getting his arms underneath the ball for his second pick of the day. Rogers took advantage of a clear miscommunication between Manning and Manningham.
On the 49ers first offensive play following the interception, Hunter took a handoff left for a 49ers touchdown, getting a kick out block from Snyder and a lead from full back Bruce Miller. This gave San Francisco a more commanding lead at 27-13.
On 3rd and 3, Manning hit Ballard over the middle for a gain of 16; Whitner was on the coverage to bring him down. Manning went to Ballard again, with the tight end making an athletic leaping catch over Patrick Willis for another first down.
On 3rd and 7, Manning went over the top to Nicks, and the Giants receiver made a great catch with his hands in double coverage (T. Brown, R. Smith) for the touchdown. Nicks got the inside release on the cornerback, and Manning had plenty of time to put it on the money for a New York touchdown.
The Giants edged closer, but the 49ers still had a 27-20 lead.
The 49ers unfortunately went three-and-out, ending the drive on a third down sack by Umenyiora.
Ware made his way up the middle for a first down, with Whitner in on the stop. Manning then hit Ware just short of a first down. Out of the shotgun, Jacobs got the handoff left and Willis shot the gap perfectly and ran down Jacobs for a loss.
On the next play, Manning went through his progressions and scrambled up left, but in no time Willis ran him down and took down the Giants quarterback for no gain; also thanks to good coverage down field.
The Giants went for it on 4th and 6, and converted with a pass from Manning to Manningham that went for 18-yards, even though Manning had Ray McDonald in his face and was throwing unbalanced off his back foot. On 2nd and 5, Manningham beat Culliver down the field but Manning missed by less than an inch, hitting Manningham's finger tips in one-on-one coverage.
The 49ers blitz got through on 3rd down to force an incomplete pass and a 4th and 5 situation. On fourth down, Manning converted again; this time by completing to Cruz out of an option route. A catch and run by Ware then got the Giants inside the 49ers 20.
Manning hit Cruz for another gain of 8 near the first down marker. On third and short just inside the 49ers 10 yard line, the Giants could not convert on a delayed handoff to Ware.
On 4th and 2, Manning took the snap, Willis checked Ballard at the line, Manning then threw but it was batted at the line by Justin Smith with 34 seconds left in the game and the 49ers took over on downs.
San Francisco ran the clock out in the victory formation, improving to 8-1 on the season - the first time the 49ers had started 8-1 since 1997.
Follow me on Twitter: @DeSimone80