Colin Kaepernick was as good as anyone could have hoped for on Sunday.
The shame is that the quarterback's 262 passing yards and two touchdowns went in vain due to Eli Manning's late-game heroics. No 49ers player has been scrutinized more than Kaepernick after consecutive subpar outings.
Kap answered the bell against the New York Giants, and his receivers took notice.
"It's a tough loss," said Torrey Smith, who finished the game with two catches for 42 yards while also drawing three penalties. "The thing that stands out the most, and obviously we didn't finish the game, but Kap did a hell of a job. I'm very proud of him for how he bounced back after the last few weeks. He put us in a position to win."
The quarterback's first-half numbers were modest (118 passing yards on 12 completions), but there was still enough of a rhythm established to build on in the second half. Kaepernick orchestrated three touchdown drives on the team's first four possessions in the last 30 minutes of the game.
Kaepernick completed passes of 37 yards, 26 yards, 25 yards, 19 yards and 17 yards in the second half.
"We wanted to go out and be more aggressive," Smith said. "You need to get one first down, get some momentum going and then the big plays come later. You need to be able to move the ball."
Anquan Boldin starred among 49ers pass catchers, leading the team with eight catches for 107 yards and one touchdown. The veteran receiver told reporters postgame that Kaepernick changed the play at the line of scrimmage several times to take advantage of man coverage.
"I thought he felt comfortable," Boldin said. "He came over and told us that he was gonna give us a chance, especially if we had a 1-on-1 matchup."
The chunk plays in the passing game helped get Pierre Garçon going as well. San Francisco's violent runner was held to 12 yards on eight carries in the first half against the NFL's No. 1 run defense.
With Kaepernick exploiting 1-on-1 matchups, the Giants weren't able to stack the box like they did early in the game. Hyde ran the ball 13 times for 81 yards and a touchdown in the final two quarters as a result.
"I definitely think we can build on it," Boldin said. "We got into a rhythm offensively so we can build on that."
Alas, the silver lining can only be taken so far amid a heartbreaking, 30-27 loss in front of a primetime audience on "Sunday Night Football." When Hyde's two-yard touchdown put the 49ers up 27-23, there was still almost two minutes left on the game clock.
Manning took advantage and drove the Giants down for the game-winning touchdown on a 12-yard pass to Larry Donnell.
"We just knew the game wasn't over," Boldin said. "1:45 and a timeout is a lot of time for Eli. … It's still disappointing, especially the way that we lost."