It was another frustrating Monday Night loss for the San Francisco 49ers, who led 23-20 with 2:46 left in the game. But it was too much time for Eli Manning – who was literally playing to keep his job – and the New York Giants.
It certainly didn’t help that Malcolm Smith got called for holding on 3rd and 12 after the 2-minute warning and that Ahkello Witherspoon got called for pass interference shortly thereafter.
“It was a number of plays,” said head coach Kyle Shanahan. “Extremely disappointed. I thought we put ourselves in a position that we should have won that game. Up 20-10 after the first drive in the third quarter. Gave up a big kick return right after that, I think, followed by two explosives. Got them right back in it, 20-17. I thought we had a chance to step on their throat there and we didn’t. We let them get back in it fast. Kept them around. Kept them around too long and then we didn’t make the plays at the end and we had every opportunity to and just as a team, players, coaching staff, we didn’t get it done.”
The end result – the 49ers fall to 2-8 as they head into the bye week.
Nick Mullens, QB1
Nick Mullens was not quite the Nick Mullens of week nine, but he still, most likely, played well enough to keep his starting job. Mullens finished the night 27-of-39 for 250 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
The first interception was going to be Giants ball the second Mullens threw it. It was intended for Kendrick Bourne but was wide and eventually tipped into the hands of B.J. Goodwin at the 49ers’ 12-yard line. That resulted in the first of two Odell Beckham, Jr. touchdowns.
“I think the biggest thing in the course of the game, I always try to tell myself is, ‘One play doesn’t affect the next. If you have a bad play, there’s no reason why you can’t have a good play the next play,’” Mullens said. “So, that’s kind of what I keep telling myself through the game. Try to stay even-keeled, bring a positive energy to the field. Yeah, just talking about the moments of truth. I’ve got to perform better, and we’ve got to perform better and finish games when they’re there to finish.”
The second was a ball that was thrown behind Marquise Goodwin and tipped – that one was more of a joint-effort INT.
Mullens has shown a lot of comfort throwing down the middle of the field and he can read a defense well. However, he struggles throwing down the sidelines. But, in theory, that will improve with time and experience. Shanahan said after the game that although he hasn’t thought about it, he expects Mullens to start after the bye.
For Mullens’ part, he said, “…I’m not worried about it. I’m really just frustrated that we lost.”
Defensive Finish, Or Lack Thereof
As has been the case multiple times this season, the 49ers defense couldn’t get the job done. The pass rush struggled the entire game, unable to get pressure on Manning. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the 49ers recorded their first sack. And, of course, there were the aforementioned penalties on the Giants final drive that helped seal it for the G-men.
In the first quarter, Beckham scored his first touchdown while being covered by cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Witherspoon was clearly frustrated, throwing his hands up in the air to signal that there was a mistake in coverage, which Richard Sherman confirmed there was. However, the theatrics are not welcome.
“You shouldn’t ever do that,” Sherman said. “That is like a cardinal rule in football. He is frustrated because it is two-man and you are expecting guys to be where they are supposed to be and we didn’t get the personnel in that we needed to on the field.”
Shanahan also has no patience for it.
“Man up,” Shanahan said. “Don’t put that on tape. We’ll deal with it when we come in.”
Giants phenom running back Saquon Barkley finished the night with 20 carries for 67 yards on the ground and four receptions for 33 yards in the air.
Although he continues to battle an ankle injury, running back Matt Breida continued his impressive season with 17 carries for 101 yards, one rushing TD and one receiving. But, the team lost, so that’s what he cares about.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve lost by two or three points, when we should have won…” Breida said. “You’ve just got to finish. As a team, we’ve got to come back, man up and just finish.”
Finishing is the theme of the season and it’s something they just haven’t been able to do very often.
“It just comes with practice,” Sherman said. “It comes with executing in practice situations. It is knowing that when you are tired, exhausted and practice is on the line, it’s the last period and being able to compete. We do a lot of competition periods in practice but it is early on. It is before guys legs get tired and guys get exhausted, so it is one of those things that just comes with time. It’s a young team with young guys. Today I think our guys fought as hard as they could and we just didn’t get the benefit of the whistle.”
Rookie and third-round draft pick Fred Warner continues to be a bright spot on the 49ers’ defense. He finished the day with four combined tackles and two passes defended, and he made big plays when it counted.
“From what I saw, I thought he played well,” Shanahan said. “I won’t know for sure until I go study the tape, but when I was looking up I saw him make some plays. He’s done a helluva a job leading our defense all year as a rookie, just making the calls and being out there every single week too. We’ve been real happy with Fred this year. From what I saw, it looked like he did some good things in the game, but I won’t know for sure until I watch the tape.”
49ers Give Back
The Bay Area Camp Fire demolished the town of Paradise, so in an effort to bring some joy, the 49ers hosted their football team, cheerleaders and coaches at tonight’s game.
Paradise Strong pic.twitter.com/sOHzeVyqwE
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) November 13, 2018
In addition, Monday Night’s 50/50 Raffle recipient was the North Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) and they will auction off game-worn and signed jerseys from T Joe Staley, QB Nick Mullens, RB Matt Breida, TE George Kittle, DL DeForest Buckner and FB Kyle Juszczyk with proceeds going to NVCF.
“It’s just people helping people,” Sherman said. “I think at this point in our lives, in this point in our Nation’s…history…people aren’t helping enough people. People aren’t caring for each other anymore. Everybody’s dividing themselves…There aren’t enough people that’s just saying…’I know you’re my neighbor and help your neighbor.’ And I think the 49ers are doing a good job of that. And obviously as players, we have a responsibility to do the best we can to help that situation. And I appreciate being part of an organization that…takes the steps to go out and help their community. We’re just football players. That’s what they always say…Stay out of the way. Stay out of the politics. Stick to the game. But we feel like it’s our obligation to go out there and help our community in any way we can. Obviously, that football team is going through a lot. That community is going through unbelievable tragedy and if we can help put a smile on their face for give minutes, we’ve got to do that. And if we can help financially, with our time, with our energy, with our work, we’re going to do that.”
Some things are more important than football. To the bye week. Go Niners.