The Giants finally got the fast start they have been looking for, scoring a TD on their first possession of the game. But that was about it. They failed to pick up half an inch on fourth down late in the third quarter, then failed to score any points with first-and-goal from the 4 later on. Oh, and the Old Eli Manning made an untriumphant return, tying his career high with five interceptions after throwing only six through the first nine games. He had no protection and took a beating from the 49ers, who were credited with seven QB hits.
Based on last week, anything short of a total implosion would land a passing grade, and the Giants certainly didn't look like the league's worst defense. They still gave up too many rushing yards (148 overall, with Frank Gore averaging 5.0 per carry) and too many big plays (two passes more than 20 yards and four runs more than 10). But they gave up only one TD and, for the most part, were able to negate the impact of Manning's picks. They even set the tone early with a fumble recovered by Zack Bowman. The fumble was unforced, but you take what you can get.
The A stands for "absolution" from this loss, a rarity for the unit. But when the kicker gets credit for a forced fumble, it's a good day no matter the outcome. Josh Brown did just that, peeling the ball away from Bubba Ventrone on the successful onside kick that was recovered by Mark Herzlich. Brown also connected on a 43-yard field goal. Odell Beckham Jr. had one good punt return of 25 yards and Preston Parker averaged 25.8 yards on his five kickoff returns. The coverage was good on the Giants' punts and kickoffs, too.
It's hard to complain about a defensive game plan that held the 49ers to one TD. And they certainly rolled the dice with the onside kick in the third quarter, a desperation move that paid off. But even Tom Coughlin was upset with the play-calling on the four passes from first-and-goal. How about a run?