It's interesting to note that if you analyze it well enough, you can see that the trend was building towards what happened on Sunday.
49ers known for strong defense, running game, and Smith game managing. So what happens?
Harbaugh has Smith come out throwing and catches Giants completely off guard (Coughlin admits to this, and Giants fans can't recall him ever admitting to this). Smith drives the 49ers pretty well on numerous drives, and to my knowledge only sacked once (maybe twice) the whole game.
Giants & 49ers each exchange some long drives that end in FGs due to great redzone defenses. 49ers steal a possession with onside kick. Teams exchange interceptions before half. Interesting to note that the Giants drive very methodically on 49ers on these drives. Eli, Cruz, and Nicks all make great plays consistently.
Second half, defense gets better and 49ers start getting better field position through special teams. A blown coverage with Michael Boley out leads to a quick TD by Vernon Davis.
An interception due to Eli expecting Manningham in a spot allows for a quick Hunter TD. 14 point lead, and all the 49ers have to do is hold on to lead to win.
Immediately evident is that the Giants defense has tightened up and the 49ers offense does not move the ball as well as they did the last game. A quick strike to Davis allows an easy TD. Playcalling gets cute, and overall not much to write about otherwise.
Giants move the ball with ease and Cruz annihilates us in first half. There was one huge QB strip we had early on that could have set a bigger defensive tone but Giants recovered the ball. Giants take 10-7 lead into halftime.
Second half, Fangio figures out how to get to Eli and Giants struggle offensively. Special teams delivers again, and sets Smith up on a short field. Another strike to Davis and 49ers take lead 14-10.
Giants figure out errors and Davis no longer a factor in game. Kyle Williams allows Giants to take lead 17-14. Williams does eventually get a huge return to allow us to tie game.
Defenses playing so well on both sides, that the game would be decided on the first turnover. Unfortunately that was us.
49ers start out methodically, with two great time consuming drives. Unfortunately only 3 points out of two, but a domination of the first quarter in yards and time of possession. Giants punt twice and don't do much.
Sensing panic from bad omens or an unhealthy sense of paranoia, we divert from game plan. Smith's bomb whether poor decision or psychologically forced changed momentum in a game like I've never seen before. No need to document the rest of the game as it is still fresh in our minds.
What do I see in these 3 games?
I think from game 1 to now, we never were better than the Giants despite winning 1, blowing 1, and then seeing a worst case scenario in the 3rd.
The onside kick in game 1 illustrated that mentality,the Giants' offense was not shut down towards the end and it was apparent had they tied it late they probably would have won the game in OT.
The second game, if you take away two quick strike plays we didn't do much if anything on offense except run the ball well. Before the shutdown defenses on both sides showed up, it was clear the Giants were moving the ball better than we were (and way better through the air). Fortunately the defense kept it tight and within reach.
The third game interestingly enough, we had our most authoritative first quarter against these guys on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately the TD conversions didn't arrive. The game could have looked drastically different with a 7-0 or 10-0 lead. Psychologically having that lead would have led to better playcalling for sure.
In each game btw, the Giants slowly figured out better ways of shutting down Smith. First game they were pretty poor, only offset by our O not what it has become now. Second game they really shut us down, through game plan and us being short handed at WR plus Smith maybe having the jitters.
Last game, once we went off balance and pass only they had their biggest answer yet for our offense. They finally figured out VD and our favorite routes and apparently jumped all the short stuff, exposing us when we did not take advantage of the deeper stuff.
But for us to have had our best 1st quarter against them this Sunday means we have progressed as a balanced offense, and defensively without a pass rush it was strong since we never shut down Eli so well in a 1st quarter ever.
So it wasn't the worst game ever played. It showed our strengths and exposed our fatal flaw.....we fix the flaw we are golden. We don't, then it sucks and we'll have to figure it out next season.
[ Edited by JTsBiggestFan on Oct 16, 2012 at 2:54 PM ]