49ers use 3rd down to defeat Giants on Thursday night, improve to 3-0

If you win on third downs, you usually win football games.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) congratulations running back Christian McCaffrey (23)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) congratulations running back Christian McCaffrey (23) / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

42. 49ers-Giants final score. 12. 31. Final. 30

It wasn't the prettiest of games for Brock Purdy and the 49ers, but third downs definitely swung in the Niners' favor on Thursday Night Football.

Football is full of clichés. And there are clichés that parallel winning games.

Such as winning the turnover battle or winning in time of possession. Or executing in the red zone.

Another one of those clichés? Executing on third down.

The San Francisco 49ers didn't dominate the visiting New York Giants on Thursday Night Football like the Dallas Cowboys did to the tune of 40-0 way back in Week 1. But the Niners still managed to pull off a gritty 30-12 victory in prime time over the G-Men at Levi's Stadium to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

A major reason why? Third downs.

Sure, there were plenty of factors and X-factors that fed into the win, especially running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Deebo Samuel picking up chunk plays. Yet both also had key first-down pickups on 3rd-and-long plays, too, that made key differences:

With wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk ruled out with a shoulder injury, Samuel stepped up with plays like the one above, finishing the night with six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown.

McCaffrey, meanwhile, finished with 85 yards rushing, 34 yards receiving and a touchdown, too.

As a big result, San Francisco went 9-of-16 on third-down attempts while also being aided by two G-Men penalties on the crucial down.

49ers defense ensures Giants struggle on 3rd down

Winning on third down, offensively, is just one half of the battle. The 49ers also managed to deliver aplenty on the defensive side, too.

New York's defense began to falter in the second half, thanks largely to the Niners picking up third down after third down. But also because San Francisco was frustrating Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and Co. for much of the night.

On (you guessed it) third downs.

The G-Men went 3-of-12 on their third-down tries.

Brock Purdy struggles early vs. Giants blitz, then thrives in 2nd half

The 49ers certainly weren't dominating early on offense, and part of the reason why was because quarterback Brock Purdy initially struggled against defensive coordinator Wink Martindale's frequent blitzes.

However, by the end of the night, both of Purdy's touchdown passes came against the blitz, and the second-year signal-caller turned the page despite being blitzed over 30 times in the game.

Purdy didn't have a pass touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2, ending his streak of consecutive games to start an NFL career with at least two passing scores. But he managed to pick up where he left off, finishing with those two passing touchdowns while going for 310 yards through the air and a 111.3 passer rating.

He also won his eighth consecutive regular-season game, too, while the Niners will now get a "mini" by week before hosting the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4.

Staying undefeated, too.

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