Eli Manning

A very bad game for the San Francisco 49ers with Colin Kaepernick shouldering a lot of the blame once again. Still, it wasn’t as bad as the one Eli Manning put on the other end, throwing five interceptions and killing any hope for the New York Giants to have themselves a happy ending this season.

This game felt like the end of the road for a lot of concepts on the Giants. Maybe the last season for Tom Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl winner but also someone who has made the playoffs only once since 2009. An offensive line that isn’t improving, a defensive concept that has fallen apart and has made the Giants one of the worst in the league on that end, and a quarterback that made signs of being able to change earlier in the season before reverting to his old ways of making bad decisions with risky throws.

Manning is now up to 11 interceptions this season, thanks to another game in which it was way too easy to get to him. He was only sacked twice, but the San Francisco 49ers got to him seven more times, while their offense did everything possible to make it more difficult for the better unit. The 49ers and the Giants finished with almost identical numbers: 333 yards on 68 plays for the Niners, 330 yards on 68 plays for the Giants. The Niners won just 16-10, and yet the feeling from the game was so very different for both teams.

For the Giants it really felt like the end of the season. At 3-7, without a sense of optimism about anything this team has right now, including the overpaid quarterback. The 49ers just evened things out with the Seahawks who lost, and got another example of how to win despite, and not because, of Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who proves almost each week that the hype around his running ability is capable of hiding all of the flaws in his passing, decision making and game management abilities.

The Niners scored just one touchdown, on a 13-yard pass from Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree that turned into a 49-yard touchdown. Kaepernick completed only 15-of-29 passes for 193 yards. He ran for 24 yards on eight attempts while Frank Gore led the rushing with 95 yards, fumbling the ball once. Even with that mistake, it all became meaningless once Manning signaled this game was going to be about how he blows it for the Giants.

The Niners got into the red zone four times during the game and had to settle for a field goal twice. They’re ranked 30th in the NFL in terms of red zone efficiency. It might have something to do with a poor offensive line. It also has something to do with the troubles they’ve been having with Roman’s play calling all season long. And it ha a lot to do with Colin Kaepernick being a quarterback that’s special in only one way, and might be below average in everything else.

The bottom line remains more important than individual storylines: Eli Manning and his interceptions are bad for the Giants, but there are more negatives on this team that showed all through the first 10 weeks of their season, and are putting them out of the playoffs for a third straight year. And as endearing as it might be to pummel the ability of Kaepernick, a player who is easy to pick on because of his behavior, the 49ers have a few very good things going for them, although it doesn’t look like a group capable of making Harbaugh’s Super Bowl dream come true.

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