The San Francisco 49ers came into Week 3 shorthanded, but so did the Giants. On the Niners’ first drive, it was nice to see them get Brandon Aiyuk involved on a couple of jet sweeps. Pocket presence was going to be a question for Nick Mullens, and he didn’t see a free rusher on the first drive. The sack Mullens took forced the 49ers to settle for a 52-yard field goal that gave San Francisco a 3-0 lead.
The Giant’s first drive didn’t get off to a promising start. After picking up a couple of first downs, New York tried to get fancy but botched the handoff. Newcomer Dion Jordan pounced on the ball, and the 49ers took over in Giants territory. Would the 49ers turn this short field into a touchdown? Mullens fed wisely fed Jordan Reed that led to a couple of first downs, and that brought San Francisco into the red zone. On 3rd & 9, Mullens found Sanu for a first down. Mullens had Brandon Aiyuk open but was late on a throw, which cost the Niners a touchdown. On third down, Kyle Shanahan called a great play, but Mullens couldn’t connect with Reed. The worst part about that play was Reed rolling his ankle. It didn’t look severe and seemed more like a “basketball ankle roll” that you could return from. Reed was ruled questionable to return but was on the field the next drive.
On the Giants’ next possession, Jaquiski Tartt not only hit Daniel Jones, but he hit Emmanuel Moseley as well. Moseley went to the locker room and was being evaluated for a concussion.
The 49ers made it into Giants territory for their third drive in a row, but Gould’s field goal was no good from 55 yards out. James Bradberry made a couple of nice plays, but the Niners wide receivers could have done a better job of making plays for Mullens.
With Moseley out, the Giants attacked Dontae Johnson. He gave up a back-shoulder throw and was flagged for holding on consecutive throws. Thanks to a bad pass on the next play, Johnson broke up a pass by Jones. Then, Javon Kinlaw knocked down a pass to force a Giants field goal. That tied the score at six midway through the second quarter.
For the fourth possession in a row, the 49ers made it into Giants territory—thanks to Kendrick Bourne, who beat Bradberry on a couple of plays. Another sack took the 49ers out field goal position and made it 3rd & 22. Thanks to an illegal contact penalty, the Niners picked up the first down. The offense had success throwing the ball on early downs, but Shanahan continued to run the ball on first down, despite limited success. The Giants were giving the offense plenty of space to throw the ball underneath. The 49ers averaged 1.9 yards on 15 carries by the two-minute warning. I know there’s a backup QB playing, but it’s not as if Mullens looked incompetent.
Ross Dwelley had an impressive gain where he broke two tackles. He also had a nice block on the next play to spring Jerick McKinnon for a first down. McKinnon was impressive during the first half, and he had a nice touchdown run to cap off the drive.
The 49ers got on the board once more before the end of the half after this Fred Warner interception:
If there’s a better LB in the game than Warner, I haven’t seen him pic.twitter.com/1yP4HIV85W— KP (@KP_Show) September 27, 2020
What a play by Warner and what a player he’s become. He ran that route for the receiver.
Mullens hit McKinnon down the seam on the next drive—it probably should’ve been a touchdown on a better throw—but that put the 49ers in the red zone once again. After McKinnon failed to get out of bounds, Gould kicked another field goal to make the score 16-6. At the half, the 49ers made it into New York’s territory in each of their five possessions.
The 49ers ran 43 plays compared to the Giants 19.
The Giants received the ball to open the half and moved the ball into San Francisco’s territory thanks to Jones’s legs. The Niners were able to hold the Giants to a field goal to make it 16-9. Jason Verrett and Warner both made a couple of impressive plays on the drive.
On the 49ers opening drive of the half, they featured Aiyuk on three throws, and he was rewarded with some quality blocking on this touchdown below:
Watch Juszczyk at the end pic.twitter.com/HSnTL0bDZ4— KP (@KP_Show) September 27, 2020
That was the sixth drive in Giants territory in as many possessions. The 49ers did whatever they wanted to against New York, despite running into a wall on most first downs.
After stopping the Giants on 4th & 1, Jeff Wilson Jr. scored on a screen pass after Ben Garland sprung a block. Kyle Nelson struggled to snap the ball today, and, while it wasn’t a problem against the Giants, something is up with Nelson. That made the score 29-9.
Mullens became more and more comfortable as the game went on. Mullens, at one point, was 24-of-35 for 325 yards and a touchdown. He was hanging in the pocket and making plays with his legs. He also had a few really, really impressive throws.
A blowout meant we got the chance to see JaMycal Hasty, who had a reception on his first play. The 49ers still didn’t block well up front, but we saw Hasty, Wilson Jr., and McKinnon take advantage of their 1-on-1 opportunities, though it may not reflect the same in the box score. As deflating as the first two weeks of the season were, we saw what the 49ers are capable of on offense today, despite missing half of their team.
The game ball has to go to Mullens. The 49ers had eight drives and scored four touchdowns, three field goals, and had one missed field goal.
You can listen to Rob Guerra’s instant recap from the game here.