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Giants defense searching for answers after embarrassment

Forget about the 49ers.

The Giants defense Sunday wasn’t stopping the 39ers, 29ers or 19ers. And that’s essentially who they faced.

Playing without their starting quarterback, top two rushers and All-Pro tight end, a junior-varsity version of the defending NFC champions scored four touchdowns and three field goals on their first eight possessions to send the Giants to an embarrassing 36-9 defeat at MetLife Stadium.

“It’s not good enough,” defensive co-captain Blake Martinez said. “We have to show up every single day and put the work in knowing that we’ve been doing isn’t it.”

Work only can go so far when the roster isn’t talented enough to compete against a depleted opponent. The Giants are 12-39 in their last 51 games — worst in the NFL — including 9-26 under general manager Dave Gettleman and 0-3 to start head coach Joe Judge’s tenure.

Giants
Jeff Wilson fends off the Giants’ Ryan Lewis during the second half.AP

“We have players,” Judge said. “We have players in a position on our roster, on our team, that were on the field today, that can help us win games. We have to make sure everyone coaches better and we raise our level of play.”

There was plenty of postgame talk about needing to review the film to make assessments, but it doesn’t take a second showing to know this was a lopsided performance.

The 49ers didn’t need to punt in a game for the first time since Dec. 19, 1993 and they didn’t commit a turnover.

All of the 49ers’ possessions except the one to run out the fourth-quarter clock covered at least 30 yards and they converted 8 of 12 third downs. Backup quarterback Nick Mullens threw for 343 yards and a touchdown with a 108.9 passer rating and three different 49ers scored on the ground.

“I don’t want to point fingers at anybody on this team,” Leonard Williams said, “so one way we can get off the field on third down is if I can get to the quarterback faster and I can get my hands up when the ball is coming out fast to bat down some balls.”

Jabrill Peppers missed most of the game with an ankle injury, but the Giants are more shorthanded on offense. The defense was helpless despite cornerback James Bradberry playing at a Pro Bowl level and Williams finally coming into his own as a pass-rusher with his second sack in three games.

“You have 36 points given up,” Martinez said, “you need to take a step back and look at what needs to change, what needs to improve, what do we need to add in.”

The Giants trailed 16-9 midway through the third quarter, but the defense looked gassed the rest of the way — no surprise given they were on the field for just under 40 of the game’s 60 minutes.

“I never see any quit in this team. I believe we’re right there,” Williams said. “We need to overcome a few of the mistakes we’re making.”

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