Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Giants vs. 49ers: Full San Francisco position grades & analysis from Week 10

Nov 12, 2018 at 9:24 PM


The San Francisco 49ers hosted the New York Giants in a battle of last-place teams on Monday Night Football in Week 10, losing 27-23 in the prime-time bout amid yet another fourth-quarter collapse.


San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens went through his expected regression on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants, not quite having the same kind of easy success he enjoyed during his NFL debut against the Oakland Raiders in Week 9.

Yet Mullens isn't entirely to blame for the Niners' fourth-quarter collapse to the previously one-win Giants, who used a confused and penalty-riddled San Francisco defensive stand late in the fourth quarter to take a 27-23 lead over the 49ers. And despite a desperate comeback attempt by Mullens, head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad ultimately fell short and has now dropped its fourth fourth-quarter lead this season.

Let's grade the positions out, shall we?

Quarterback


Mullens' ill-advised throw in the first half, which was deflected and fell into the hands of Giants defensive back B.J. Goodson, eventually led to seven points for New York. San Francisco's quarterback doesn't have the arm strength to make that kind of toss across his body.

Mullens tossed another interception early in the fourth quarter, although the pass intended for wide receiver Marquise Goodwin deflected off the receiver's hands for the pick.

Hard to peg the second one on Mullens. And one has to point out he bounced back nicely after the first pick.

Overall, Mullens had a stat line of 27-of-39 for 250 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions -- all for a passer rating of 73.7. It wasn't his best performance, but it's impossible to pin the loss on Mullens either.

Grade: C+

Running Back


It's great to see running back Matt Breida fully healthy, as he was able to rip off huge chunks of yards like he was doing frequently earlier this season. Breida finished the night with 17 carries for 101 yards and a rushing touchdown. And his 11-yard touchdown reception at the 8:09 mark of the third quarter was an excellent mismatch fully exploited by San Francisco:


Fullback Kyle Juszczyk added 10 yards through the air on two catches. It's time for San Francisco to move on from veteran running back Alfred Morris, who has zero speed to get to the outside in Shanahan's outside-zone system.

Grade: A

Wide Receiver


Goodwin's night probably was one to forget, especially considering Mullens' second pick went right through the hands of the wide receiver and into the hands of Goodson again:


Goodwin appeared to suffer a head injury on the play after being cleared from an apparent concussion earlier. He was the Niners' leading wide receiver with four catches for 69 yards. But that drop, along with another deflected would-be catch by fellow receiver Kendrick Bourne, goes a long way in having determined the eventual outcome.

There weren't exactly any other major contributions from this struggling offensive group.

Grade: D-

Tight End


It shouldn't come as much of a surprise, but tight end George Kittle continued his budding rapport with Mullens and solid overall season. As Mullens' favorite target during the game, Kittle finished with nine receptions for 83 yards.

New York did a good job bottling Kittle up later in the second half, proving just how much the 49ers need a complementary pass catcher.

Grade: B+

Offensive Line


San Francisco's run blocking was OK, as evidenced by Breida's big game on the ground. And pass protection wasn't much of an issue either, as Mullens wasn't sacked and took just three quarterback hits.

The Giants had only 10 sacks coming into the game, though, so it's not a massive achievement there.

That penalty on center Weston Richburg in the second half sure hurt.

Grade: B

Defensive Line


So, the pass rush. Against a Giants team coming into Week 10 having allowed the most sacks in the NFL (31). Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and linebacker Dekoda Watson combined for San Francisco's first and only sack of the game at the 9:44 mark of the fourth quarter.

Before that, the 49ers pass rush was virtually non-existent. Giants quarterback Eli Manning came into the game with a passer rating over 100 when he didn't have to face pressure. Manning faced hardly any in Week 10, and his three-touchdown, 110.7 passer-rating performance tells you all you need to know.

At least New York running back Saquon Barkley was held to just 3.4 yards per rush. What was EDGE Cassius Marsh doing in coverage on him, though?

Grade: F+

Linebacker


Rookie linebacker Fred Warner made his presence felt with the 49ers short fellow backer Reuben Foster, who was absent from the game with a shoulder injury. Warner was in coverage frequently, covering the intermediate part of the field and finished the game with four tackles and two passes defended.

Yet Warner's promising performance was completely negated by that of fellow linebacker Malcolm Smith, whose illegal-contact penalty on the Giants' game-winning drive came on 3rd-and-long and ultimately gave New York a first down en route to the go-ahead touchdown.

Smith isn't a coverage linebacker. At all.

Grade: D+

Secondary


With a lack of a pass rush up front, the Niners secondary looked a lot like it did in previous weeks before the Raiders game. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon gave up a 20-yard touchdown reception to Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham in the third quarter. It wasn't completely on Witherspoon, though, who was banking on over-the-top help from safety Jimmie Ward.

Witherspoon's pass-interference call late in the fourth quarter, even if it was iffy, only helped reinforce the issues San Francisco's secondary has had this season.

The 49ers defensive backs ultimately were tagged with just 188 New York passing yards throughout the game, but they all came at the worst possible moments in the second half. And this group looked more like the vulnerable unit that has been on display for most of 2018. Confusion, missed assignments and coverage gaffes have been a common theme for almost all of the season.

Grade: D-

Special Teams


Well, at least kicker Robbie Gould hit all three of his field goals. And it was nice to see punt returner Richie James rip off a 23-yard return early in the game.

But, oh. Rookie defensive back Tarvarius Moore's hit on Giants punt returner Quadree Henderson -- one of 10 Niners penalties for a total of 97 yards -- sure was costly.

Grade: C
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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