Maiocco's Instant Replay: Giants 26, 49ers 3


Maiocco's Instant Replay: Giants 26, 49ers 3


SAN FRANCISCO -- Quarterback Alex Smith made a 49ers-record 26 consecutive starts without a two-interception game.That streak came to an unceremonious end on Sunday.The New York Giants intercepted Smith three times en route to making a huge statement with a 26-3 victory over the 49ers on Sunday at Candlestick Park.Some of the 49ers, including Smith, said they viewed this game as "unfinished business." The Giants defeated the 49ers 20-17 in overtime last season to win the NFC championship. New York went on to win the Super Bowl.But the Giants showed that they're not going anywhere. The Giants were better offensively, defensively, on special teams, as well as in the coaching department during their decisive victory. Both teams own 4-2 records.Smith entered the game with a league-leading passer rating of 108.7, which included eight touchdown passes and just one interception in five games. But Smith looked nothing like the passer who put up huge numbers one week earlier against the Buffalo Bills. Certainly, the Giants had a hand in that.Smith completed just 19 of 30 passes for 200 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.Smith gave the Giants a scoring opportunity early in the second quarter when his underthrown pass for tight end Delanie Walker was intercepted by cornerback Prince Amukamara.Perhaps not coincidentally, Walker ran that same route in the NFC championship game and was wide open down the left sideline. But Smith did not pull the trigger on that pass.In the third quarter, Smith threw interceptions to Giants safety Antrel Rolle on back-to-back possessions. New York managed two field goals to build a 20-point lead.STALEY CONCUSSION: Left tackle Joe Staley left the game in the third quarter and did not return after sustaining a concussion. The 49ers moved right guard Alex Boone to left tackle to take over for Staley. Veteran Leonard Davis played right guard.It is the second time Staley has left a game with a concussion. In mid-December last year, Staley left a game against the Arizona Cardinals. He returned in time for the following week's game.THROUGH THE AIR: The Giants exploited third cornerback Chris Culliver on two third-down plays in the second quarter to set up the only touchdown of the first half. Domenik Hixon turned around Culliver for a 39-yard reception. Then, Hixon caught a 16 yards pass.Those plays set up Eli Manning's 6-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz against the coverage of cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Donte Whitner. Cruz celebrated with a salsa dance, and the Giants led 7-3.MISSED KICKS: The 49ers had a chance for a six-point swing at the end of the first half. First, Tarell Brown blocked Lawrence Tynes' 40-yard attempt in the closing seconds. Then, the 49ers got into field-goal range when Colin Kaepernick drilled a 36-yard pass down the middle of Mario Manningham.That set up David Akers for a 52-yard field-goal attempt. But Akers' kick on the final play of the half was wide left. Earlier, Akers missed wide right from 43 yards. So the 49ers went to halftime trailing 10-3.THIS 'N' THAT: Despite running back Brandon Jacobs' statement that he's been ready for two weeks, he continues to be inactive on game days. Jacobs had hoped to make his 49ers debut against his former team. But because he is the team's No. 3 running back and he does not play special teams, the 49ers decided against placing him among the 46 active players on game day. The 49ers' other inactive players were WR A.J. Jenkins, RB LaMichael James, QB Scott Tolzien, S Trenton Robinson, G Joe Looney and NT Ian Williams.
Akers made a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter for a field goal in his record-setting 22nd consecutive game since joining the 49ers. Bruce Gossett previously held the record of 21 consecutive games with a field goal. His streak went from November 1970 to October 1972.Smith finally hooked up on a deep pass to Randy Moss in the third quarter. His 55-yard pass appeared to be a possible momentum-changing play. But the 49ers replaced Smith with Kaepernick on the next play, and Kaepernick took an 11-yard sack. Eventually, the 49ers went for it on fourth-and-15 from the Giants' 34-yard line. But Smith hit tight end Vernon Davis on a gain of just 7 yards. Joe Montana took part in the 49ers' alumni celebration in a pregame gathering in the parking lot.The team honored 49ers Hall of Fame inductee Gordy Soltau at halftime. Soltau spent his entire nine-year NFL career as a member of the 49ers (1950-1958), excelling as both a pass-catching end and kicker. A three-time Pro Bowler (1951-53) and three-time All-Pro (1951, 1952, 1953), Soltau led the 49ers in scoring in eight of his nine seasons played, including an NFL-high in both 1952 and 1953.It's a quick turnaround for the 49ers, who return to action Thursday evening against the Seattle Seahawks. It is the 49ers' first game against an NFC West opponent.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?


49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.