Eli Manning may not have had any of his most trusted receivers with him late in Sunday's 30-27 win over the 49ers, but he had Shane Vereen with him, and the running back is quickly stepping into that category.

Vereen caught three passes for 51 yards on the winning drive, including a 24-yard gain on third-and-10 that set up the Giants at the 20 with 30 seconds left. He led the team with eight catches for 86 yards and a 2-yard touchdown reception earlier in the game.

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"I figured if I was going to be in sync with [their defense], I had a better chance of getting the ball through more of a zone look," Vereen said. "I was just trying to move the chains."

Vereen is quickly becoming an important cog in the Giants' offense.

"Shane's great out of the backfield," Manning said. "Catching balls and moving around. They tried to have a linebacker on him a few times and couldn't stop him. They put a DB on him and he was still making some big plays. Outstanding job making some big-time plays for us. We needed it."

That's why the Giants signed him during the offseason as a free agent, to add that dimension to their backfield, which had been missing for the past several seasons. Vereen has 20 receptions for 208 yards and has carried the ball 25 times for 101 yards this season.

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"He is amazing," Tom Coughlin said. "In the short time he has been here, he has made a huge difference. He's a scrappy guy, too. I like him."