Good teams win. Bad teams lose.
That is about all there is to know about what went down Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
It did not matter that the good team, the 49ers, was using a reserve at quarterback and so many other starting spots. It did not matter that the bad team, the Giants, had enough of their most important players on the field. It did not matter that they were without Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard. Nothing mattered.
What mattered is the Giants three games into this season are a disaster. They were manhandled and embarrassed at their fan-less home, dominated by an opponent using backup after backup. Daniel Jones turned the ball over two more times, the running game was nonexistent, the defense made Nick Mullens look like Nick (or Joe) Montana and the visitors toyed with the team in blue. It added up to a terrible and telling 36-9 loss for the Giants and, if you can see where they get their first win, text us the information, please.
This was a bloodletting. Mullens was 26 of 36 for 343 yards. Jones, (17 of 32, 179 yards) with one more fumble and one more interception, was overmatched. The running backs, Wayne Gallman, newcomer Devonta Freeman and Dion Lewis, ran the ball 10 times for 17 yards.
The 49ers did not punt. Not once.
The Giants are 0-3 for the first time since 2017, when they lost their first five games en route to a 3-13 disaster that got Ben McAdoo fired 12 games into his second year as the head coach. Plenty of patience will be afforded Joe Judge in his first season but certainly anxiousness grows as the wait for victory No. 1 is ongoing.
That the Giants lost to this depleted 49ers team begs the question: Who can they beat? The 49ers were without 10 players who are starters or key contributors. The Giants were beaten with Mullens filling in at quarterback for Jimmy Garoppolo and with backups filling the field on both sides of the ball for the 49ers. They were without star defensive end Nick Bosa and also defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, linebacker Dre Greenlaw and cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman on defense and tight end George Kittle, running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman and receivers Deebo Samuel and Tavon Austin on offense.
The 49ers (2-1) routed the Jets and Giants in back-to-back weeks in East Rutherford and, despite despising the new turf at MetLife, might want to consider making it their East Coast home away from home.
Down 16-6 after a desultory first half, the Giants were completely buried when a 49ers drive inspired by rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk made it 23-9, a fourth-and-1 sneak by Jones was stuffed on the Giants’ 30-yard line and Mullins flipped to Jeff Wilson on a 19-yard screen for a touchdown. It was ugly and embarrassing and any other damning indictment you want to heap on Judge’s team.
After a lousy first half in Chicago, the Giants punched the clock with a lousy first half a week later. They were thrashed in time of possession (22:26-7:34), offensive plays (43-16), total yards (221-100) and actually were fortunate to trail only 16-6.
The question whether Jones can get through a game without a turnover, was answered with a resounding ‘No,’’ as the second-year quarterback did not make it past one quarter. Trying for some misdirection, Jones’ pitch to tight end Evan Engram was high and wide — but still should have been secured. The Niners recovered the fumble on the Giants’ 42-yard line but Isaac Yiadom — starting in place of demoted Corey Ballentine — saved a touchdown with a pass breakup and a Mullens-to-Jerick McKinnon touchdown pass was nullified by a hands-to-the-face penalty. Dominated in the first quarter, the Giants trailed only 6-0.
A 19-yard run on zone read by Jones led to a Graham Gano 52-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 6-3. A 23-yard completion to Darius Slayton put the Giants in 49ers territory, but rookie Javon Kinlaw knocked down Jones’ third-down pass, leading to another Gano field goal to make it 6-6.
For the third time in as many games, the Giants gave up a touchdown in the closing minutes of the first half. This was one sparked by a terrible illegal contact penalty on rookie Darnay Holmes on third-and-22, a gift the 49ers turned into points when McKinnon turned the corner on a gasping Giants defense for a 10-yard scoring run for a 13-6 Niners lead.
Two plays later, Jones tossed a terrible ball behind Engram for an easy interception for linebacker Fred Warner. It was something of a positive sign to escape the half limiting the damage to another field goal.