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Gamer: 49ers Escape New York with 6-4 Record

Posted Nov 16, 2014

Thanks in part to the defense's five interceptions of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, San Francisco secured its sixth win of the season.

The lead from EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – They're through the worst of it.

The San Francisco 49ers have done themselves a solid by going undefeated on their toughest trip of the season, beating the New Orleans Saints last week and the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.

With their latest road win, 16-10 over the Giants (3-7) at MetLife Stadium, the 49ers (6-4, 1-2) will stay on the West Coast for the final, six-game stretch of their season.

San Francisco has four home games and two road trips, to Oakland (Week 14) and Seattle (15), left on its docket.

Lately, the team has proven it can win in an air-controlled dome and now a frozen tundra. Levi's® Stadium should be a welcome sight.

After all, the pass rush (two sacks, numerous hurries) and pass defense (five interceptions of Giants quarterback Eli Manning) that the team showed on Sunday appears to work anywhere.

The quote: "This will be a happy flight home," Jim Harbaugh said postgame. "The team is playing with a lot of heart, playing with a lot of fight."

The numbers: View full stats here, although we should mention rookie Chris Borland led the team in tackles (13) for the third straight week.

The injury report: Cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), wideout Bruce Ellington (ankle), linebacker Dan Skuta (ankle) and defensive tackle Ian Williams (fibula) were the injured players listed as inactive 90 minutes before gametime, while quarterback Josh Johnson, offensive lineman Dillon Farrell and wideout Quinton Patton were healthy scratches.

The 49ers suited up just four cornerbacks with Brock and rookie defensive back Jimmie Ward (foot) sidelined.

With Williams out and Glenn Dorsey (biceps) yet to rejoin the roster, second-year pro Quinton Dial made his first NFL start at nose tackle.

As expected, cornerback Perrish Cox (punt returns) and running back Carlos Hyde (kickoff returns) replaced the injured Ellington in both of his special teams roles.

There were no 49ers injuries reported during the game, although tight end Vernon Davis left the game late in the second quarter because of an apparent eye injury and returned. 

Left tackle Joe Staley missed one play after going down on the field.

The observations: All of the 13 NFL experts we polled during the week picked the 49ers to win the game.

2. Despite being played on Injured Reserve this week, inside linebacker Patrick Willis (toe) offered teammates his typical fiery pregame speech.

3. Kaepernick and left tackle Joe Staley were joined by special teamer Bubba Ventrone as the team's capatains. Ventrone has been called the strongest man, pound for pound, in the locker room, so it was shocking when he was ruled to have lost a fumble to Giants kicker Josh Brown during the hosts' successful onside kick attempt in the third quarter.

4. Speaking of turnovers, Frank Gore's first-quarter, red-zone fumble, his first of the season, was clearly a result of losing his footing on MetLife Stadium's artificial turf.

5. Rookie Aaron Lynch, not Aldon Smith, started at right outside linebacker. Smith, of course, was eligible to play for the first time this season after serving his nine-game suspension. The pass-rush specialist made his season debut early in the second quarter.

6. After he entered the game, Lynch and veteran Ahmad Brooks split time at left outside linebacker. In the third quarter, the University of Central Florida product recorded his third sack over his last four games. Second-year pro Corey Lemonier also saw action after losing his job to Lynch earlier this season.

7. Reserve offensive linemen Jonathan Martin and Joe Looney both entered the game on the second play of the second quarter, giving Gore the biggest offensive line group he could imagine. Two plays after Gore gained 18 yards, offensive coordinator Greg Roman tried the same formation a second time.

8. Another Roman trick: giving Davis a hand-off in the backfield, something we haven't seen before. Unfortunately, Davis' modest gain was wiped out by a holding penalty.

9. Borland has been complimented for his instincts. Well, he seemed to also use his smarts, when stepping in front of rookie wideout Odell Beckham Jr. for his second-quarter interception. Fellow inside 'backer Michael Wilhoite's own pick was more about his incredibly speedy reaction time, of course. Neither Borland nor Wilhoite had recorded an NFL interception entering the game.

10. For the second straight week, second-year defensive tackle Tank Carradine saw extended action after being inactive on gameday most of the season. Also worth noting: veteran defensive tackle Ray McDonald appeared to put in his best game of the season, recording his first sack of 2014 not long after halftime.

11. Yes, New York's team colors are blue and red, but most of the red among the 80,352 fans to attend Sunday's game were wearing 49ers jerseys. Borland seemed to know this because he raised his arms as if to incite the crowd when the Giants attempted and failed to convert a 4th-and-1 play late in the third quarter.

12. After securing the defense's fourth interception of Manning early in the fourth quarter, cornerback Chris Culliver handed the ball to Harbaugh on the sideline.

13. The defense's shining moment: With about five minutes left, the Giants trailing by six points and four yards away from tying the game, the secondary stood strong on four straight pass attempts. The fourth was deflected and intercepted by your player of the game, Borland. 

The advance: The 49ers fly back to California on Sunday evening. Players have Monday off, while coaches will be back at the SAP Performance Facility in Santa Clara to begin preparing for a two-game homestand that begins with a Sunday afternoon battle with Washington. Before San Francisco attempts to score its second three-game winning streak of the season, it could have Dorsey (biceps) back in the fold. The 49ers are 2-0 against Washington since Harbaugh took the helm in 2011; this will be the teams' first matchup at Levi's® Stadium.

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