49ers-Giants recap: Defense folds in closing minutes of Niners’ MNF loss

San Francisco 49ers New York Giants Week 10 Monday Night Football recap
Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers were unable to hold on to a 10-point second half lead, as a last-minute drive by Eli Manning gave the New York Giants a 27-23 victory. Niner Noise has your full game recap, including scores and highlights from the 49ers’ Monday Night Football loss.

The San Francisco 49ers lost another winnable game against an inferior opponent tonight, which continues to be a common theme over the course of the Niners’ 2018 season. Turnovers again played a pivotal role in the loss to the New York Giants, as two of 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens‘ passes were tipped into the air for interceptions.

Mullens leaned heavily on both running back Matt Breida and his go-to receiver George Kittle throughout the contest. Breida provided over 130 yards from scrimmage and a pair of scores, while the tight end hauled in 9 receptions for 83 yards.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was forced to leave the field on consecutive plays due to head injuries, was able to return to action, and gave the 49ers a last-second try for victory. Unfortunately, Mullens’ pass found the back of the end zone instead of a San Francisco receiver, as the quarterback was forced to heave the ball downfield in the face of heavy pressure.

Surprisingly, Giants quarterback Eli Manning spent much of the game pressure-free, despite being sacked a league-leading 31 times in his first eight games of 2018. Thanks to clean pockets, Manning was able to take advantage of mismatches in coverage, and especially targeted whichever receiver was supposed to be covered by linebacker Malcolm Smith.

Along with smoke, there was excitement in the air at Levi’s Stadium as Mullens took the field for his second NFL start:

Unfortunately the excitement was short-lived. After leading the 49ers to three points on the team’s opening drive, Mullens’ following series ended with a late pass to wideout Kendrick Bourne, which was tipped into the air for an interception:

On third down, Manning was able to work the pocket as his offensive line held off the Niners’ pass rush, and found wide receiver Odell Beckham in the back of the end zone between three San Francisco defenders:


However, Mullens led the 49ers down the field on the team’s subsequent drive, and Breida’s tough 3-yard touchdown run gave San Francisco a 10-7 lead:


The two teams traded field goals before San Francisco got the ball to start the second half. Mullens drove down the field, connecting with Kittle and Brieda, before he hit his starting running back with an 11-yard touchdown pass on third down:


Down by 10, The Giants began their comeback with a 51-yard kickoff return. After a 30-yard reception by Beckham, Manning went to his top receiver again against broken coverage in the 49ers’ secondary:


After the Giants tied the game with a field goal on their next series, it was Mullens’ chance to give the 49ers the lead. Unfortunately, miscommunication between Goodwin and his quarterback led to another tipped pass, and Mullens’ second interception of the night:


After being thoroughly ineffective throughout the game, the 49ers’ defensive front finally got to Manning on third down, which forced New York to punt:

Mullens’ 11 play drive fell short after backup running back Alfred Morris was stuffed on second down, and Bourne was tackled short of the sticks — but kicker Robbie Gould put the 49ers up by three points with under three minutes remaining in the contest.

Manning immediately went after Smith, who gave up a pair of receptions before cornerback Richard Sherman caught Barkley behind the line, forcing a third-and-long for New York. Manning went back to Smith on the following play, and although he overthrew his receiver, the Giants were given a fresh set of downs due to a holding call on the 49ers’ linebacker.

Two plays later, Manning was in trouble again, but a poorly thrown 1st-and-20 pass in Beckham’s direction drew a questionable pass interference flag on cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

A 23-yard pass to Barkley and a 9-yard reception by tight end Evan Engram put Manning in position to finish the 49ers off with this short touchdown pass to wide receiver Sterling Shepard:


Next. 49ers vs. Giants: MNF live game thread. dark

The San Francisco 49ers have an upcoming bye in Week 11. On Nov. 25, 2018, the Niners travel to Raymond James Stadium for a Week 12 showdown with the 3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.