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3 Winners and 2 losers from the 49ers convincing victory over the Giants

From Talanoa Hufanga’s interception to Brock Purdy against the blitz, let’s look over some winners and losers from Thursday night

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

It felt like a slog, but the San Francisco 49ers opened their season at Levi’s Stadium with a statistically dominating 30-12 win over the New York Giants.

The 49ers gained 291 more yards, ran 32 more plays, and held the ball for 20 minutes more than the Giants. Brock Purdy had a slow start but finished with 310 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, relying heavily on Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.

But the story of the game should be the 49ers’ defense, who leads off winners and losers this week:

Winner: 49ers defense

The New York Giants offense couldn’t get anything going on Thursday. It finished with just 150 total yards and averaged 3.3 yards per play, just barely staying ahead of the chains on average.

Steve Wilks and the 49ers defense had everything to do with those struggles.

Nick Bosa finally got on the board with his first sack of the season, with Javon Hargrave having the other sack of Daniel Jones. Clelin Ferrell, Arik Armstead, and Drake Jackson each had a pressure.

Oren Burks had a pair of tackles for loss, and Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw combined for nine tackles. The secondary held Giants receivers to just 17 receptions for just 105 yards, holding Darren Waller to two receptions for 20 yards. Talanoa Hufanga even recorded his second interception in three games.

The 49ers’ defense played a good game as a whole; when that happens, it’s tough for any offense - especially one without Saquon Barkley - to move the ball.

Winner: WR Deebo Samuel

It was a flashback performance to 2021 for the 49ers receiver.

Samuel’s 129 receiving yards were the most he’s had in a game since the 49ers lost to the Titans in Week 15 of 2021 when Samuel finished with 159 receiving yards on 11 receptions and a touchdown. It took Samuel just six receptions for Samuel to reach his mark on Thursday night against the Giants.

His longest play was vintage Samuel, catching a pass from Brock Purdy over the middle about 15 yards downfield. He would turn upfield and make four would-be Giants tacklers miss en route to a 40-yard catch-and-run.

Purdy’s best throw of the night resulted in Samuel’s touchdown, a 27-yard score in tight coverage that Samuel could haul in to give the 49ers their final score of the game.

There aren’t too many players better than Samuel at running with the ball, and Thursday was another example of how physical Deebo can be.

Loser: special teams penalties

A penalty on punt coverage cost the 49ers defense points for the second consecutive week.

Last week, Tre Swilling was called for a kick-catch interference before the Rams went down and kicked their meaningless field goal as time expired. On Thursday, Shemar Jean-Charles was called for a fair catch interference, setting the Giants up with their best field position of the game in 49ers territory.

Two plays later, the Giants scored its only touchdown to shrink the 49ers’ lead to five.

It was another penalty that didn’t have a result on the game’s outcome, but two consecutive weeks with a special teams penalty isn’t ideal.

Winner: WR Ronnie Bell

Bell’s stretch of play early in the game, both on offense and special teams, resulted in his first career touchdown.

Kyle Shanahan opted to punt on fourth-and-2 late in the first quarter, but Mitch Wishnowsky made good on the choice, punting the ball inside the 10-yard-line. Eric Gray made a late decision to return the ball after it bounced, but the decision led to nothing, with Bell making a great tackle to hold the return to just three yards.

Bell’s tackle would set the 49ers’ defense up to force a three-and-out with the Giants punting inside its own five-yard-line. The 49ers offense would then go on an 11-play, 72-yard drive that finished when Brock Purdy floated a ball towards the pylon with Bell making a tough toe-tap catch for the 49ers’ first touchdown.

He would finish the game with two receptions for 24 yards and the touchdown.

Loser: LT Trent Williams

Williams is probably lucky he was allowed to finish the game.

In an uncharacteristic first half, the 49ers left tackle was called for three penalties. Williams was first hit with an ineligible man downfield on an RPO pass - tricky for an offensive lineman - with his second being a holding call on a drive the 49ers would later score a touchdown. His third - and final penalty of the game - probably should have earned him an ejection.

With the 49ers kneeling the clock out to end the first half, things got chippy between Spencer Burford and Giants lineman A’Shawn Robinson. Williams got involved, and he and Robinson - who already had some history - threw a couple of punches at each other. The infractions led to off-setting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, and the 49ers would kneel out the half on the next play.

The refs made a good decision, kicking out neither Williams nor Robinson - it was a situation where either both got ejected or neither got ejected - but both avoided a bullet with the lenient decision.