The San Francisco 49ers dropped a heartbreaker, losing to the New York Giants, 27-23, on "Monday Night Football." Robbie Gould kicked a go-ahead field goal in the final three minutes of the game. However, Eli Manning and the Giants offense responded with a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive that culminated in Sterling Shepard's game-winning touchdown with just 53 seconds left to play. Here are the takeaways from Monday night.
1. San Francisco's defense had a few different chances to put the game on ice. Matt Breida's 11-yard touchdown catch to open the third quarter put the 49ers up 20-10. It took the Giants just four plays to answer with a touchdown of their own. At the end of the game, leading by three, San Francisco once again failed to get a stop and allowed Shepard's game-winner. Those are the moments that will hurt the most when watching the tape tomorrow. The 49ers defense played solid overall, but wasn't able to come up with clutch plays to close the game.
2. Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley were kept in check for the most part. Beckham caught just 4-of-11 targets for 73 yards, but he did manage to find the end zone twice. Barkley managed just 67 yards on 20 carries, but like Beckham, came up with a back-breaking play -- a 23-yard catch and run on New York's final drive.
3. The biggest frustration for the defense, aside from the final drive, was the lack of a consistent pass rush. The 49ers racked up eight sacks last week against the Raiders but came up with just one on Monday against the Giants (a split sack between Dekoda Watson and DeForest Buckner). That inability to get to Manning was apparent on New York's game-winning drive.
4. Nick Mullens threw for 250 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was able to get the 49ers one shot on the final play of the game, but his pass sailed out of the back of the end zone. Mullens did show the ability to bounce back from mistakes and engineer scoring drives in clutch situations. After the Giants took a 7-3 lead in the first quarter, the 49ers immediately drove the field and scored a touchdown on Matt Breida's 3-yard run. There's still plenty to be encouraged by from Mullens' second NFL start.
5. Matt Breida and George Kittle were the stars of this one. The pair of second-year standouts carried the 49ers offense throughout Monday night's contest. Let's start with Breida, who made an impact both as a runner and catching passes out of the backfield. He was also the lone 49ers player to find the end zone. Breida scored a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and later scored on an 11-yard touchdown catch in the second half. The latter was an impressive, full-extension grab to extend the 49ers lead to 20-10. Breida finished the game with 17 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown in what was his second career 100-yard performance. He added three receptions for 31 yards and the second score through the air.
Kittle paced 49ers pass catchers as Mullens' go-to target. He caught a career high nine passes for 83 yards in another performance that affirmed his place in the upper echelon of NFL tight ends.
6. Richard Sherman had a pass breakup against Beckham, but it was his three stops of Barkley that turned heads. Sherman stuffed two runs and also dropped Barkley on a pass into the flat for a minimal gain. He continues to make an impact when given the opportunity. As has been the case all year, though, Manning opted to avoid targeting Sherman on a regular basis.
7. Fred Warner also flashed throughout. He stuffed Barkley inside the 5-yard line on 3rd-and-goal and broke up two passes intended for Beckham. The rookie linebacker has been a bright spot on defense for the 49ers this season.
8. Turnovers were once again a glaring issue for the 49ers. San Francisco lost the turnover battle 2-0. That negated the 49ers having more first downs (24-17), total yards (374-277) and time of possession (34:14-25:46). Mullens' first interception gave New York the ball inside the red zone. The Giants scored a touchdown three plays later. That looms large in a game decided by four points.