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49ers vs. Giants: Score and Twitter Reaction for 'Sunday Night Football'

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2015

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) passes the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

An Eli Manning touchdown pass to tight end Larry Donnell with 21 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter lifted the New York Giants to a 30-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers, ruining a resurgent performance from the maligned Colin Kaepernick.

Down 27-23 after a late Carlos Hyde touchdown and with his two top wideouts in Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle on the sideline for a key stretch of the game after suffering hamstring injuries, Manning drove the Giants 82 yards on eight plays, capping off the drive with a 12-yard strike to Donnell in the back of the end zone.

The NFL shared the replay: 

NFL @NFL

26 seconds left. Down by 4. Eli throws it to Larry Donnell who makes an INCREDIBLE catch for the TD! WOW. #SFvsNYG http://t.co/JYGlNF1Y2z

Manning finished with a career-high 41 completions for 441 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception. His game-winning pass broke a franchise record, per SportsCenter

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SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Eli Manning broke Phil Simms' franchise record for completions in a game (41) with his game-winning TD pass. http://t.co/JileBGn0ss

Beckham was a nightmare for the 49ers secondary, catching seven passes for 121 yards and one touchdown despite being limited by his hamstring injury. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reported that Randle was out for the game with a hamstring injury of his own.

It was a disappointing display for the Niners pass defense, considering it managed to limit Aaron Rodgers to 224 yards through the air in a Week 4 loss to the Green Bay Packers. This stat from About.com's Connor Hughes pointed to a lack of pressure as the culprit:

Connor Hughes @Connor_J_Hughes

Eli Manning dropped back to pass 55 (!!) times. He wasn’t sacked once.

After two straight weeks of horrid play (zero touchdowns, five interceptions), Kaepernick put in a solid shift, one that should satiate at least some Niners fans who were unhappy with his performance this year. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 262 yards and two scores, with both of them coming in the back-and-forth second half. Kaepernick did fumble twice, but neither resulted in a turnover.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller complimented his passing:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Touch passing from Kaepernick tonight. Have not seen enough of that this year.

Hyde tallied 93 yards on 21 carries, a solid stat line considering the 49ers mustered just 34 yards on the ground as a team in the first half, with most of them coming from Kaepernick.

Whether it was the overall scheme, the supporting cast or Kaepernick's inability to find and make the big play, the Niners offense was underwhelming in the first 30 minutes. Kaepernick hardly threw the ball downfield, instead making the simple throw on a litany of screens, underneath routes and checkdowns. 

Sports Illustrated's NFL Twitter account felt the 49ers' scheme had handcuffed Kaepernick: 

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle felt the Niners could have made better use of their weapons:

Eric Branch @Eric_Branch

#49ers might want to fling it deep to Torrey Smith just to make the Giants aware he's around, yes?

That all changed in the second half. Down 13-6 to start the third quarter, San Francisco engineered three scoring drives of at least 80 yards to keep pace with the Giants' own methodical attack. The Niners first tied the game at 13-13 early in the third after a three-yard strike to veteran wideout Anquan Boldin. 

Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out it was an important throw for the struggling quarterback:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Kaepernick's TD pass was his first of the season against the blitz.

The play was also noteworthy for ending an eight-quarter 49ers touchdown drought. Their last touchdown had come on a second-quarter Kaepernick run in a blowout loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.

A 17-yard touchdown reception by Beckham late in the same quarter put the Giants back up, but the Niners made it 20-20 with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Celek.

Here is Beckham's touchdown, per the NFL:

NFL @NFL

Rule of Thumb: When in trouble, find Odell. He'll take it to the house and...that dance... #SFvsNYG http://t.co/5zzCRCdmx4

Hyde's two-yard touchdown plunge with 1:45 remaining came at the end of a seven-play, 80-yard drive that put the Niners on top.

It was fitting that Boldin—who caught eight passes for 107 yards—was a major part of Kaepernick's solid performance, as he maintained this week there was no animosity between him and his struggling QB and that his frustrations lay with the team's output as a whole, per Branch

I don’t listen to what people say. People are going to come out with theories one way or the other. My job is to come out and play football. Me and Kap are on great terms. Our relationship hasn’t changed just because were not winning football games. I don’t have frustrations with Kap. I have frustrations with us as a team not doing what we’re capable of doing.

Niners linebacker NaVorro Bowman was huge for San Francisco. He racked up a game-high 13 solo tackles but was a culprit on Manning's first-half touchdown strike to Shane Vereen, per CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco: 

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

Eli Manning with the simple pitch and catch to Shane Vereen for 2-yard TD catch on third down. NaVorro Bowman gave too much cushion.

Beckham had receptions of 31 and 49 yards in the first half, with both going a long way toward setting up Giants scores. The NFL shared a video of his 49-yard catch-and-run:

NFL @NFL

The first rule of defending the @Giants is: Never let Odell Beckham Jr. get open. He got open. Uh oh. #SFvsNYG http://t.co/5lmMG2RbYP

Kaepernick's display was solid, but with San Francisco now 1-4 on the year, the frustration is unlikely to dissipate. He looked uncomfortable in clean pockets at times, and the downfield passing game was missing in action.

The Giants are now 3-2 and first in the NFC East. The division is there for the taking, with Philadelphia and Washington uneven to start the season and Dallas' offense handicapped without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

A Week 6 Monday night date with the Eagles will be a major proving ground for the Giants. If Manning keeps up his stellar play, the Giants should have a chance at winning the division.


Postgame Reaction

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin dedicated the game to tight end Daniel Fells, per the team's official Twitter account:

Fells is currently in the hospital fighting a nasty strain of MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the bacterial infection in Fells' ankle has required five surgeries, and there are concerns he could lose his foot.

Niners head coach Jim Tomsula gave credit to Manning for making plays down the stretch, per the team's Twitter account:

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

Tomsula: "We're obviously disappointed in the result. Hats off to Eli Manning and Giants. We didn't make enough plays." #SFvsNYG

Kaepernick remains optimistic that the 49ers can do better despite losing four games in a row: 

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

Kap after dropping 4 in a row: "To me there's still 11 more games. We have an opportunity to go 12-4. We have to get on that path." #49ers

A division title would seem to be nearly impossible, with the NFC West-leading Cardinals 4-1 after five games. The Niners do have opportunities to make up ground in the division soon, with two games against Seattle and one road date with St. Louis on the slate in their next five games.

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