Top 5 takeaways from 49ers' Week 5 loss to Giants
No moral victories
It should not be good enough to merely put together a good effort and narrowly lose, as the 49ers did Sunday night in front of a national television audience. The 49ers scored the go-ahead points after the two-minute warning, but left enough time on the clock for Eli Manning to answer. And so it goes for the 49ers, 30-27 losers to the New York Giants. Their losing streak reached four games in coach Jim Tomsula’s first season as head coach. “There are no moral victories,” Tomsula said. Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s game.
5) No margin for error
After the 49ers absorbed consecutive blowout losses to Pittsburgh, Arizona and Green Bay, it was a minor accomplishment that the team played competitive football and had a chance to clinch the victory with a defensive stop late in the fourth quarter. Because the 49ers have not been in a position to win for a while, it makes it all the more important for them to buckle down and finish off these kinds of games. Although the 49ers were generally encouraged with how they played, it almost makes it more devastating because it appears as if victories will be difficult to achieve throughout this season.
4) Right guard controversy
The first change at a starting position was more of a half-change. Jordan Devey struggled in the first four games after being named the starter at right guard for the opening game of the season. Andrew Tiller did well enough on the practice squad to earn his chance on Sunday night. He entered for the 49ers’ third offensive series and appeared to play well. Devey and Tiller both played 34 snaps, as they rotated in and out for all four quarters. The in-game competition might have provided a boost, as the line had its best game of the season.
3) Boldin part of the solution
Receiver Anquan Boldin, a 13-year veteran, could not hide his frustrations the past two games, and that was a problem. Boldin’s outward displays of dissatisfaction with the team’s offense opened the door for everybody to express their emotions in less-than-positive ways. But during the week, Boldin put on his captain’s hat and spoke to Colin Kaepernick to try to deflect the pressure the quarterback was understandably feeling. Even when things were not going well early in the game, Boldin demonstrated a good poker face. In the second half, Boldin and Kaepernick got together. Boldin finished with eight receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown to show he’s part of the solution, not part of the problem.
2) Kap handles the pressure
Another performance resembling the past two games and it’s entirely possible Tomsula would have had no other choice than to make the call to go with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. But Kaepernick did well enough to earn the call at the beginning of the second half. And his performance – nearly engineering a comeback victory – provided himself with some job security. Kaepernick completed 23 of 35 passes for 262 yards with two touchdowns. (He also caught a big break when Giants safety Landon Collins let a possible late-game interception in the end zone slip through his fingers.) The pressure is off – for now. All Kaepernick has to do is prove himself all over again on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
1) Defensive breakdowns
The defense was always the strength of the 49ers during the Jim Harbaugh era. Yes, there are a lot of new faces on the defense, but for the most part the 49ers were replacing older players who appeared to be taking a downward turn. So what’s the biggest reason the 49ers are not playing at the level that came to be expected over the past four seasons? The answer is defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who was passed over for the head-coaching job. Fangio is now with the Chicago Bears, whose defense ranks fourth in the NFL. The 49ers’ defense is floundering under new coordinator Eric Mangini. The defense ranks No. 31 in total defense. Mangini wanted to show a bunch of different blitzes and defensive looks to create confusion for opposing offenses. However, the 49ers’ defense is causing as much confusion for themselves as they are for the opposition.