The San Francisco 49ers missed out on their first win streak of the season with a disappointing loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. It came down to the wire for coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers, who failed to stop quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants’ offense in the game’s final minutes, falling 27-23 under the lights of Levi’s Stadium.
Here’s five takeaways from the 49ers’ eighth loss of the season:
Mullens a little less magical
Former third-string quarterback Nick Mullens set the bar high with one of the greatest debuts in NFL history, tossing three touchdowns and no interceptions in the 49ers’ Week 9 victory over the Raiders. His performance on Monday wasn’t up to those standards, completing 27 of 39 passes for 250 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and quarterback rating of 73.7. Mullens’ second game as the 49ers starter was unspectacular, neither seeming like the winning ingredient of the reason for the loss.
Pass rush absent
In Week 9, the 49ers sacked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr eight times and added another nine quarterback hits. They were unable to generate anything close to the same amount of pressure against the Giants, despite a vulnerable offensive line. The defense only managed one sack against Manning, who shredded the 49ers in the fourth-quarter to take the late-game lead and put the game out of reach. It was a disappointing return to reality for a defensive front that showed promise against the Raiders.
Fred Warner stands out
Warner didn’t light up the stat sheet, with four tackles and two pass breakups officially, but the 49ers’ third-round pick made several plays that kept the game within reach for the 49ers. In the second quarter, Warner met Giants running back Saquon Barkley in the hole on third-and-goal from the three, forcing a Giants field goal. In the third quarter, he tipped a would-be touchdown pass from Giants quarterback Eli Manning to receiver Odell Beckham Jr., again forcing a field goal. To top it off, Warner had two drive-killing pass breakups while covering Beckham Jr. over the middle of the field. A standout night for the 49ers’ rookie.
Dante Pettis struggling
The 49ers’ second-year receiver has gotten off to a slow start since his Week 8 return from knee injury. Dante Pettis has been unable to make any real impact on the 49ers’ passing attack, despite veteran Pierre Garçon missing two of the last three games. Against the Giants, on two occasions, Pettis was thrown the ball on third down, and both times he failed to drive upfield and secure the first down, instead opting to make defenders miss unsuccessfully. Both times prompted discussions with Shanahan and receivers coach Mike LaFleur on the sideline.
The defense crumbles again
With 8:15 remaining in the third quarter, the defense had held the Giants to just 10 points and given the 49ers a 10-point lead. What was a mostly solid performance until that point was followed by a 17-point collapse, including a nine-play, 75-yard drive in the fourth quarter resulting in a Manning touchdown pass to receiver Sterling Shepard with less than a minute left in the game. It was a familiar tale of ill-timed penalties and missed assignments that authored the 49ers’ late-game struggles and eighth loss of season.