Excerpt: "Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 49ers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
New York Giants 26 at San Francisco 49ers 3
Andy Benoit: FOX announcers are saying the Niners have NFLís best offensive line. Aikman said itís the best heís seen in 10 years, and even compared it to Cowboysí lines he played with. They have to be referring only to run-blocking. (Even then, the hyperbole is overflowing here.)
Vince Verhei: Run blocking only, yes, but it's not hyperbole. I covered this on ESPN this week, but they're absolutely destroying the record for ALY this season. They're gaining five or more yards on half their carries. Yes, they're probably going to come down to earth before long, but for one-third of a season they've been like nothing we've seen in decades.
Ben Muth: The 10 years comment is a little ridiculous (the Vermeil Chiefs come to mind), but I think there's a good chance they do have the best line in football. Their interior line is really good. Joe Staley is a top-10 left tackle and Anthony Davishas gotten much better.
Peter Koski: Niners offense is showing a lot of different formations on opening two drives. Lots of Pistol or Full House formations with tight ends and fullbacks in the backfield, including defensive lineman/fullback Will Tukuafu. The 49ers have been efficient at controlling the clock thus far, but not able to get the ball across the goalline. David Akers has another missed field goal.
49ers rush defense is smothering, but they are unable to get the pass pressure to move Eli Manning off his spot, resulting in a couple big third-down conversions and a Victor Cruz touchdown.
Andy Benoit: On the Cruz touchdown in the short slot, Donte Whitner bit on play-action just a hair and Cruz did a good job setting up Carlos Rogers at the top of his route.
Danny Tuccitto: Even though San Francisco has dominated New York in the first 18 minutes or so, I'm impressed with the Giants not getting caught off-guard by a couple of wrinkles the 49ers have put into the game plan to play off of what they've put on film. Foremost in my mind is the fake jet sweep left to Ted Ginn with a counter pitch to Frank Gore going right. Giants stuffed it. Also stuffed the Kaepernickat and, if I saw the play correctly, got an interception defending the 49ers' wheel route.
Andy Benoit: Surprising that Jason Pierre-Paulís sack gives him just 2.5 on the year. Heís been dominant all season, just hasnít been reflected in sacks, apparently.
What always stands out with Giants receivers is how they a.) get great separation late in the route and b.) donít even need much separation to make the catch.
Vince Verhei: At this point, I think we also have to acknowledge that Manning is good enough to make about any receiver look good.
Aaron Schatz: Remember when he threw like half the passes over guys' heads? That feels like the era of Betamax at this point.
Matt Waldman: I agree that Manning is a fine quarterback. However, I also believe his receivers are helping him just as much as any in the league. The Giants offer a pretty nice dichotomy of drafting philosophy at the receiver position. Domenik Hixon, Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks are all nice athletes, but they all possessed a strong base of skill with the physical techniques of route-running and pass catching. This in my opinion is more important than the over the top physical promise of guys like Ramses Barden or Mario Manningham.
By the way, Manningham's big catch for 36 yards is on a pass from Kaepernick that the Giants weren't expecting. Manningham was let go -- in my opinion -- because he made rookie mistakes well beyond his rookie year. Talented for sure, but Hixon's catches today have vastly more cumulative value to a quarterback with accuracy and the confidence to make these throws than a great athlete who the quarterback can't count on to be at the right place at the right time.
Steve Smith epitomized this point when he was healthy, but his lack of great down field speed also feeds Aaron's point about Manning overthrowing passes. Cruz has Smith's hands and is developing into that kind of route runner, but has Manningham's speed and handling.
Aaron Schatz: Golly, I don't think he's developing. I think he was pretty much there last year.
Andy Benoit: The trend we're seeing with Alex Smith is interceptions on passing downs. The first of Antrel Rolle's two pick was on third-and-six, the second one was third-and-16. As we highlighted in the Film Room post, Smith is an early-down passer. He doesn't have the tools to consistently make big-time throws in obvious passing situations.
On fourth-and-15, Smith throws a check-down to Vernon Davis. He had nowhere else to go, apparently. But why not throw it "nowhere else" anyway? The check-down is guaranteed to fail. Nothing to lose on fourth down.
Danny Tuccitto: Smith probably wouldn't be in so many obvious passing situations if Colin Kaepernick refrained from taking seven-yard losses on second down every series.
Vince Verhei: Joe Buck is calling the 49ers game right now, and then is going to call the Giants baseball game tonight. If Tim McCarver is doing color, he'd better rip into Joe like he did Deion Sanders when Prime Time did the same thing. (I know he won't.)
Danny Tuccitto: I've got two TVs going, one with the Yankees game and the other with the 49ers. Wish I had zero TVs.
Rivers McCown: Joe could not stand to not call his precious Cardinals...
Ben Muth: If this ends in Joe Buck dumping water on McCarver, the last decade of their horrible announcing will have been worth it.
Aaron Schatz: So Danny, does it feel better to be a 49ers fan today, and know that at least your team got stomped beginning to end and never was in the game? Or does it feel better to be a Pats fan and know your team at least still played well even though they totally frittered away a game they had no business losing?
(It's probably worst for Ben, whose team sucked AND blew a close game.)
J.J. Cooper: Can I throw in a vote for "your team lost to a significantly inferior opponent on Thursday and in doing so reinforced that they are no longer an elite Super Bowl contender?"
Danny Tuccitto: Aaron, considering this 49ers fan has had the pleasure of witnessing *both* types of losses to the same friggin' team in the space of nine months, I'll go with "Option C: Neither."
I had this whole diatribe ready to go about how the 49ers game plan sucked today. Then, Harbaugh pre-empted me by admitting as much in the post-game press conference. Don't hear that from a coach very often.
Minus the planned vitriol, I'm reduced to just pointing out that the one team the Giants defense has shut down this season was Carolina and their endless barrage of read option. No clue why the 49ers thought it would be a good idea to try to replicate that.
I actually came close to understanding today that frustrating feeling Pats fans have about games against the Giants. There was one drive today where Nicks somehow caught a jump ball with Tarell Brown all over him, and then a play or two later Hixon made the Bert Emanuel catch. Then there was Cruz literally catching a juggled ball while being bear-hugged. All of this happens in quick succession, and I just feel like throwing my hands up, screaming, "Why does this Giants team have to be so good *and* so lucky?"
Ben Muth: The Cards were due to lose one like the Buffalo game, I can tolerate one loss for every five wins in overtime. Yeah, they didn't play well, but they hardly ever do.
The St. Louis game was much more frustrating because Arizona refused to change a thing even as Chris Long and Robert Quinn were rearranging Kolb's face. Plus, I still had delusions of a wild card at that point. The St. Louis game crushed those.