Around the NFL  


New York Giants show how to beat San Francisco 49ers


The New York Giants did more than beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Big Blue's 26-3 triumph provided the rest of the NFL with a clear blueprint for taking down Jim Harbaugh's prized possession.

The 49ers were built to pound the ball, and they were unstoppable in victories over the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. But when its ground game is muzzled, San Francisco becomes average on offense. When a defense hassles quarterback Alex Smith the way the Giants did Sunday, the 49ers starter dips into the bad habits that haunted the early days of his NFL career.

The Giants have struggled to bring down the quarterback in 2012, but Jason Pierre-Paul detonated Smith on a drive-killing, second-quarter sack. Here's why the play mattered: Smith had time to throw the ball away and didn't -- which is concerning -- and New York's defensive line forced him into chaotic decision-making all afternoon.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m. ET
Watch on NFL Network and

Thursday Night Football Xtra
Download Thursday Night Football Xtra for a second screen experience while you watch the game.

Play TNF Challenge
Pick the game score and the players from each matchup you think will score the most fantasy points. Compete with friends and experts. Win a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Not many teams can duplicate the Giants' handiwork. This win also had much to do with Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw and a dangerous cast of wideouts that created repeated mismatches against San Francisco's defense. The Giants played Harbaugh's style of ball down the stretch, dialing up Bradshaw's number on repeat. His 116 yards marked the first time the 49ers have allowed a 100-yard rusher in 23 games at home.

Harbaugh acknowledged after the game that "plan-wise ... obviously it wasn't the right one, and we'll have to see what the next one will be."

It's easy to blame Smith, but this loss was all about a finely crafted Giants game plan that exposed how the 49ers can be slayed.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.


Fan Discussion