The Giants fell to the 49ers 30-12 in front of a packed crowd at Levi Stadium during the 49ers’ 2023 home opener on Thursday night, September 21. The stadium may have been energetic, but the Giants’ play on the field was anything but.
The Giants were without some of their most important players, namely running back Saquon Barkley and left tackle Andrew Thomas. This put added pressure on quarterback Daniel Jones, who was fresh off a brilliant second-half performance in Week 2 when he led the Giants to a historic comeback victory against the Arizona Cardinals.
With Thomas and fellow starting offensive lineman Ben Bredeson out for the game, there was concern over how the Giants would protect Jones and establish a running game.
Barkley’s replacements Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell were fairly ineffective throughout the game, ending with a combined 22 yards rushing. Jones finished with only 2 carries for 5 yards after running for 59 yards last week.
With the absence of a running game, San Francisco keyed on the receivers and made Jones look uncomfortable in the pocket for most of the game. He finished 22-for-32 passing with 137 yards, 1 interception and no touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, Brock Purdy and his cast of All-Pro weapons made Giants tacklers miss on many key plays and converted on seven of 10 third-down tries. The 49ers went in into halftime up 17-6.
New York’s defensive struggled all night with wide receiver Deebo Samuel (6 receptions, 129 yards) and tight end George Kittle (7 for 90). Two-time Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey added 18 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Giants did cut the score to 20-12 with 10 minutes remaining in third quarter, which gave fans a glimmer of hope, but that faded. San Francisco answered with a quick field goal, then added a Deebo Samuel TD reception in the fourth quarter to bring the score to 30-12.
After all was said and done, the 49ers controlled the ball for 39:10 minutes to just 20:50 minutes for the Giants.
Saquon Barkley Reveals His Injury Is a High Ankle Sprain: Report
There has been confusion surrounding Barkley’s ankle injury. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the injury as an “ordinary” ankle sprain that would have Barkley out for three weeks, while coach Brian Daboll said on September 19 that “Saquon is a lot better than I thought he would be today.”
However, Thursday night Amazon Prime report Taylor Rooks revealed on September 21 that the injury is actually a high ankle sprain.
“His injury is in fact a high-ankle sprain. He said it’s not as severe as it could’ve been and added that not playing tonight is more of a pain tolerance issue. He did say that their next game is on a Monday night, which gives him 11 more days to recover,” Rooks said.
Giants Offensive Line Struggles in Loss
Over the past few years the Giants have tried to improve the offensive line through the draft and free agency. LT Andrew Thomas is considered a rising star and 2023 draft pick center John Michael Schmitz seems like a solid player thus far.
Thomas and Bredeson were both unavailable during the Week 3 match up with the 49ers and the offensive line had a very rough evening.
According to Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo, the Giants received the third-worst pass-blocking grade of any team since 2020.
The team is trying to make some efforts to bring in support, including holding a workout with former Giants guard Justin Pugh on September 20.
The timeline for Thomas and Bredeson remains unclear, but there has to be cause for major concern in the Giants locker room.