The 49ers moved to 8-1 with a thrilling 27-20 victory over the visiting New York Giants on Sunday. 49ers Public Relations presents the following notes and quotes from the Week 10 matchup.
With the Win…
- Head Coach Jim Harbaugh became the 3rd rookie head coach in 49ers history to start 8-1.
- San Francisco improved to 8-1 for the first time since 1997 and recorded their first seven-game winning streak since 1997.
- The Niners improved their overall series record vs. the Giants to 18-17 and 11-7 at home.
- Dating back to last season, the 49ers defense has not allowed a rushing TD in 10 consecutive games, which ranks t-3rd in team history.
Run Defense Continues Streak
- The 49ers run defense has not allowed a 100-yd. rusher in the last 31 games, which marks the longest active streak in the NFL. Since the start of the 2000 season, the 49ers streak of 31 games without allowing a 100-yd rusher ranks 4th in the NFL.
- The 49ers lead the league in run defense, allowing just 73.2 rushing yds. per game.
What a Weapon
- K David Akers connected on a 52-yd. FG in the 2nd qtr. vs. the Giants, marking his 5th 50+ yd. FG this season. Akers joins Cle. K Phil Dawson (6-6) and Jax. K Josh Scobee (5-5) as the only kickers to be perfect from 50+ yds. (min. 4 atts.).
- With 5 FGs from 50+ yds. this year, Akers is t-2nd in the NFL [Oak. K Sebastian Janikowski (5-6), Jax. K Josh Scobee (5-5)] for the most FGs from 50+ yds., trailing only Cle. K Phil Dawson (6-6).
- Akers has now connected on 15 consecutive FGs, the 5th longest streak in franchise history.
- Akers made 4 FGs last week at Was. and finished the day vs. the Giants a perfect 4-4 on FGs, marking the 4th time in his career and first since 11/21/10 vs. NYG and 11/28/10 at Chi. that he made at least 4 FGs in back-to-back games.
- Akers ranks t-1st in the NFL with 23 made FGs and ranks t-2nd in the NFL with 91 points on the season. Akers is on pace to record 162 points on the season, which would set a new franchise record (138 – Jerry Rice, 1987).
- The Niners successfully executed an onside kick in the 2nd qtr. after TE Delanie Walker recovered the kick by Akers, marking the first time the team had recovered an onside kick since 12/23/07 vs. TB (K Joe Nedney kick recovered by TE Delanie Walker).
- QB Alex Smith tossed his 11th TD of the season and 62nd of his career on a 31-yd. catch and run to TE Vernon Davis. The TD recept. by Davis ranks him t-1st in franchise history for the most TD recepts. among TEs (Brent Jones), with 33 career TDs.
- The Niners went for two after the TD, converting it to WR Michael Crabtree. The 2-pt. conversion was Crabtree’s first and the first for the 49ers since 9/20/10 vs. NO.
- CB Carlos Rogers recorded 2 INTs on the day. He posted his 4th INT of the season in the 2nd qtr., and later picked off QB Eli Manning in the 4th qtr. to register his first career multi-pick game. Rogers now ranks t-1st in the NFL with 5 INTs (prior to the primetime games).
- The 2 INTs by Rogers marked the first time a Niner has registered 2 INTs in the same game since CB Walt Harris on 11/25/07 at Arz.
Leading the Charge
- QB Alex Smith led the 49ers on another 4th qtr. come from behind victory vs. the Giants after trailing 12-13 at the start of the 4th qtr. It marks his fourth, 4th qtr. come-from-behind victory this season, which ranks t-1st in the NFL with Giants QB Eli Manning.
- Following Rogers’ INT, on the ensuing play rookie RB Kendall Hunter took a handoff 17 yds. to the house for his 2nd career rushing TD and first since 9/25 at Cin.
Taking Him Down
- LB Patrick Willis registered his 2nd sack of the season and 17th of his career after bringing down Giants QB Eli Manning in the 3rd qtr.
Knocking It Out
- The 49ers defense registered 6 PDs on the day vs. NYG, giving them 66 for the season. The 66 PDs rank first in the NFL this season.
- TE Delanie Walker tied his career high with 6 recepts., hauling in 69 yds.
Extending Their Streaks
- TE/LS Brian Jennings has now played in 185 consecutive games.
- DT Justin Smith has now started 164 consecutive games, dating back to his rookie season in 2001. Smith’s consecutive start streak ranks 3rd among defensive players and 5th among all NFL players.
- TE Vernon Davis has now started 68 consecutive games, which ranks 3rd in the NFL among TE’s behind Tony Gonzalez (79) and Jason Witten (76).
Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference – November 13, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants
Second game of the year where DT Justin Smith makes a huge play to save the game at the end. Just talk about him and his ability to come through when you need him most.
“He’s a great player. He’s having a great year, he should be in the MVP category, conversation. He’s having that kind of a year, he’s having that kind of a year for us. He’s got a huge heart, that guy is just a big, strong, mighty man and we had a lot of them today. A lot of guys that stepped up and played great when they had to. The New York Giants are an outstanding football team. It’s a character team to. It’s a well-coached, disciplined team. Just a smart, smart team. The team who won today was just going to have to play better. We’re the same type of team; it was just a matter of who played better. They were doing some great things offensively. They roll of the rock on first down and then come back with a trap. They made plays when they had to make them. That’s a smart, good team. Just got a lot of respect for the way they play. Our guys played better. They deserved to win and they’ve got big hearts, too.”
Can you talk about the feel of the stadium? This is something we probably haven’t seen in about nine years, with that kind of crowd and that kind of noise. Even earlier this season, maybe the fans weren’t as engaged…
“You really could start to see it. We talked about it as a team not too long ago, the last time we were here. Just every week, the fan base, the crowd is really building behind us. We feel that. We love it. We love it, love it.”
What were you feeling at half-time? Kind of an odd game, 9-6, no rushing yards other than what Alex had gotten. Were you happy at halftime or were you a little concerned?
“Happy, always concerned. Really came into halftime and one objective was to try to get the running game better. Do a good job, make some adjustments. I thought we did that. Alex was playing great football, we knew we had that going. [Offensive Line Coach] Tim Drevno made a great call on the [RB] Kendall Hunter touchdown. We had been running strong side to the wing, heavy wing formation, then Drevno called a wrap play and Kendall popped it. That was big after the interception. Just a great team effort, coaches, players, all of our guys, our practice players. Great win for the 49ers.”
I can remember in your opening press conference as 49ers head coach you said you hoped the this team would be vastly underestimated. Do you think you can still be vastly underestimated after a game like today?
“I believe in you guys, the media. I believe that you will find a way. As long as all that is written is written against us, we’ll be happy. Alex Smith, you find a way to keep diminishing the guy. They call him a game manager and he’s a great game manager, but you read it and you hear people talk about him and they’re trying to slight him when they say that. He, once again, goes out and plays great football and keeps proving it. That’s what the guy’s about and I have a ton of respect for him as a player. You can write whatever you want, the more against us the better.”
The way Giants QB Eli Manning has played in the fourth quarter this season, some of those second half throws he made, in some ways did you think that game was heading to overtime?
“It was two evenly matched teams, so it could have gone into overtime, definitely. Our guys played better. Our defense played better, made plays when it had to make plays. Kept them out of the end-zone twice in the first half and that’s not easy to do against an offensive team like that. You knew they weren’t just going to hand it to us; we were going to have to play better. We were going to have to play better in special teams, we were going to have to play better on offense and in defense and I think we did. I think in all three of those phases we played better. That’s a great job, give that credit to the players and the coaches. Those players are out there, they’re doing the blocking and the tackling. Just a great team effort.”
How much do you think you were able to turn this team around? Obviously, you knew the team was going to be better but to be 8-1 at this point, can you talk about what that means?
“I don’t take any credit for it. This is these guys. This is these men, these mighty, strong men. They’re easy to coach. They’re a joy to be around. They just come to work; they’re about each other more than anything. They’ll diminish themselves to raise up a teammate. That’s who they are. They’re very good character guys. I told them the other day just how proud I was of them, just on another note. We haven’t had any off the field kind of stuff. These guys are locked in to see if they can’t get a mile-an-hour faster each day. Love them for it. Itake no credit for it because they were that way before we got here.”
Can you talk about the season [K] David Akers is having?
“Near perfect. If there is such a thing. That’s the way David Akers has been kicking this year. I don’t know how many touchbacks he’s got. It’s got to be up close to 30, I would think. And that’s what we were hoping he’d bring to us. We were hoping he’d have high-20s, maybe get to 30 on the season. We thought he’d be a high 80-percent field goal kicker and in the 87-88 range, but he’s darn near 100. Already close to 30 touchbacks, and then factor in the pressure kicks. These are plus-50 kicks, plus high-40 kicks, these are game-on-the-line kicks he’s been making. He’s been near perfect.”
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Did you guys come in knowing that you were going to throw as much as you did?
“Yes. We really feel like the table was set. I mentioned to [head coach] Jim [Harbaugh] earlier in the week it reminded me of two years ago when we were getting ready to play Oregon, we had kind of went with ground-and-pound there for a while and the table was set to throw the ball. As the defenses continue to load the box more and more, you just kind of keep baiting it and keep baiting it. We wanted to come out throwing this game a lot and the guys did a great job executing it.”
Is that something that’s really going to pay dividends as the year goes on? Showing teams that, ‘Okay, we can put the ball in the air too if you stack the box.’
“Yeah, we were kind of hoping to keep that a secret as long as we could but I guess it’s out of the bag now. The players did a great job executing the plan and we stuck with that plan from pillar to post, from the first play to the last. [QB] Alex [Smith] performed exactly pretty much like we thought he would, at a high level.”
QB Alex Smith
Alex, at what point did you know that you guys would be opening the game so pass happy?
“All week we kind of talked about it, and then obviously as we just got closer to the game, we knew that’s what it was going to be like. No shock to me. The way we’ve been running it the last five games the attention to the O-line. We knew we were going to have to come balanced and potentially soften them up throwing it, so.”
So throwing was a way to open up the running game?
“It would just be balanced I guess. No question. They both feed off of each other, but we knew we weren’t going to be able to beat our head against the wall, so.”
Alex, have you heard any comments particularly from the Giants’ media and the Giants players themselves about you being a game manager and things like that?
“I just saw the one that I got called a manager or whatever, and this and that. I could really care less honestly. That is the honest truth. It feels good to be 8-1. I managed myself into a victory that’s all I could care about.”
What did you see on the touchdown play to TE Vernon Davis?
“He’s just so fast. Anytime they’re playing the zones and then trying to pass things off, he just has so much speed it’s trouble to pass off. They tried to pass it off and couldn’t bump it off in time, and that’s what happened with Vernon up the sideline.”
Alex, do you feel like this is one of the biggest games in your career just because you threw the ball so much?
“I don’t know. It was a huge game. I don’t know. I’m not going to compare it to any other games. It was a really good game. We talked about it all week. This was a big challenge for us. We’ve got a quality opponent coming in here, and we were going to have to go after these guys. And we did that, and the guys around me played great.”
Alex, how good do you think you guys are?
“8-1. That’s it, obviously you are as good as your record. You’re as good as your last game and we beat a really good football team.”
Can you put that into perspective a little bit, just joking about the Fox crew coming in here, but you’ve been through a lot here to be sitting here now at 8-1 in this position, just kind of put it into perspective.
“To tell you the truth, the thing that I’m loving the most is the guys we’ve got in the locker room. They’re so much fun. Come into work every single day, playing for each other, having a blast. The locker room, these few hours after the game, you put in so much all week, and to get to celebrate these few hours after the game with each other and to come out on top, that’s what we’re playing for.”
Is it different than it has been in the past?
“Yeah we’re winning, yeah.”
K David Akers
You had four field goals, an onside kick, you had a tackle even and three touchbacks. Fans are kind of getting spoiled here, they’re accustomed to you doing this. What’s it been like?
“It’s been a great run since I’ve been here. I cherish every field goal that I make and every touchback, knowing that I’m trying to do my part. That’s our job, so I take a lot of pride in it. Unfortunately you can’t make them all, generally. I try, but I haven’t gotten good enough to be able to do that yet. These guys up front, they do a great job protecting and [LS] Brian [Jennings] and [P] Andy [Lee] work so much together that they just do a great job and it’s just up to me not to screw it up. So I tried my best and I got good guys that can do it for me.”
TE Vernon Davis
You guys got into the end zone and then right back with the pick. Did you guys get the push you needed?
“That just shows what our team has. We have a lot of heart with this team and dedication. We have hard working men that will do whatever it takes. We’ll go back and correct some of the mistakes that we made today and get ready for the next game.
CB Carlos Rogers
The final drive – they’re [Giants] moving the sticks on you and [DT] Justin Smith comes up with the play of the game. What about him knocking that pass down?
“That was big. That was the play of the game. If they had scored on that drive, my two picks would’ve meant nothing. For him to knock that ball down and get his hands up like that was the game. We’ll take it whatever way we get it.”
8-1. How does it feel?
“It feels real good right now. Like Coach [Jim Harbaugh] said last week, a 7-1 shower after the Washington game felt pretty good. This 8-1 shower I’m about to take in a minute is going to feel real good, too. We’ll see what 9-1 feels like.”
Are you guys getting used to Justin closing games off at the end?
“That’s our closer. That’s our big-time player. People talk about him getting old and he’s not doing things. Justin is making plays. In this game, he batted a pass down and that was the play of the game.”
DT Justin Smith
Justin, you batted that ball down when the Giants were threatening at the very end. What did you see and how did that play unfold?
“Number 1, I was tired. Number 2, they [coaches] were telling us to get our hands up. They were throwing pretty quick on rhythm. I just put my hand there. Luckily, it was where the ball went. It was just blind luck.”
How crucial was it for the defense to keep them to field goals in the first half?
“They’re a heck of a team. We were talking about them with our coaches. The schemes they run and the way they attack had me guessing out there. Hats off to them. Keeping an offense of that quality out of the end zone bodes well for us.”
With getting the interceptions and being able to capitalize – especially in the second half – how important were [CB] Carlos Rogers’ plays in that regard?
“He gets my game ball. Every time we need a big play, Number 22 comes up with a pick. In my book, those two interceptions he had won us the game.”
Getting to 8-1 and beating a quality opponent like that at home, what are the thoughts and feelings in this locker room?
“It’s fun. We’re enjoying it while we’re in it. We’re just a one-week-at-a-time team. We know we have Arizona here next week. That’s just the mentality we want to stay with.”
T Joe Staley
Do you guys notice all the buzz going on about your team?
“The energy that our fans gave us today was amazing. They were into it the whole game. They really were involved and really made a big difference. Also, the buzz in the locker room is something I’ve never been around in all my years. Everybody is so confident going into games. We were very confident going into this game. We had a great game plan that we were able to execute and we were able to come away with the victory. It was a tough game. It was a tough, hard-fought game. That’s a good team and I would love to face that team again in the playoffs. It would be a great challenge again for us.”
How nice was it to see the game in Alex Smith’s hands for the large part of the game?
“Our game plan today was to have Alex come out and really make plays. Coming into the game we knew we had a big challenge, they led the NFL in sacks coming into this game. We didn’t do a really good job on pass protection. Alex did a great and his receivers did a great job. I’m really happy for Alex and everything that he’s done.”
TE Delanie Walker
Let’s talk about [QB] Alex [Smith] and the passing game. It looked like the defense was stacking the box, they were challenging him and then he came through spreading the ball.
“That’s what Alex does, he’s a playmaker. He put us in the right plays. He made the right audibles for us to get down the field and make plays and get the first downs. Alex has been doing that all along. It’s just now coming out, we have a great playbook for him to win and he’s doing a great job controlling the offense.”
How good is that to know you put that on tape to beat a good team like the Giants?
“It’s great, now teams know what Alex can do under pressure. We feel like this was a playoff caliber game and he came through for us. He made some great calls and made some great plays with his feet and his arm. That’s what we need out of Alex Smith and he’s been doing it along. Now everybody out there can see that we have a great quarterback leading a great team.”
S Donte Whitner
How much respect do you have for [QB] Alex Smith? The way he has worked his craft and what he’s doing this year on the field?
“All he needed was a good coaching staff with the right tools and the right techniques to teach him what to do. That’s what he’s doing, he’s leading this football team and leading the offense. All throughout the game they challenged him and I know that coordinator over there. I know [Giants defensive coordinator] Perry Fewell, he coached me for three years in Buffalo and I know his mindset. He’s just going to come out, stop the run and take the running backs out of the game and make Alex beat them. Alex made some big throws and helped us win the football game.”
LB Patrick Willis
The play that DT Justin Smith brings to this defense, can you speak to that a little bit?
“Justin [Smith], when you say that name, Justin’s a consumate team player. I told him on the sidelines, series after series, how much I respect him. I think he’ll be one of the best players I’ll have ever played with in my life and it’s been a pleasure playing with him. Week-in and week-out he comes to play. He practices hard in practice and goes hard on Sundays. He’s a tremendous player.”
What kind of statement does a win like this mean?
“It’s a big statement across the board however you look at it. There was a bunch of people that doubted us this week, have been doubting us the whole season and will still doubt us. They have so many excuses as to why the Giants didn’t win this game, whether it’ll be, ‘[Giants QB] Eli [Manning] wasn’t having his day, or whether it was the receiver wasn’t this or the line wasn’t this.’ They’re going to have something to say to try and take away from us winning this game, but at the end of the day we let them say what they want to say. We let the record speak for itself. For us, we’re humble but we’re still hungry. We have humble hearts and we just want to continue to get better week-in and week-out.”
Given the way this defense has played all year, how appropriate was it that it came down to the end and you guys had to stop them? Was that the way you wanted it?
“I still say it was a team win. Our offense kept us in this game, our special teams guys played well on special teams. And our defense, it was a total, all-three-phase game and that’s what it’s going to take.”
Does this victory stand out or are they all just blending in now?
“Each victory, we doesn’t take one lightly, we don’t overlook one. To us, it humbles us when we get a win even more because we’ve been on the other side of that where we haven’t won. So to be in this situation right now, like I said before, I give all praise and glory honor to God and I thank my teammates and coaches because honestly it’s a great group of guys to be around. Week-in and week-out, each week we come and we are ready to work. You would think, ‘Oh they have a win, they’re going to take it lightly,’ but we don’t. We go out there and we put in the work understanding that we’ve got to have a great week of preparation, a great week of work to come out and play well on Sundays. And I will say it’s a joy to feel the feeling you have after a win.”
New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin
“We came to win, we didn’t win. We played hard. We fought hard and that’s the one thing we can take away from this. We had our opportunities, didn’t quite work that way. We did not win the turnover battle. It was two-to-one, in that regard and we knew that we could not make any mistakes along those lines because they were +12 coming in here. We did a pretty good job with [WR Ted] Ginn [Jr.] and special teams, except one of the punts was, obviously, way out of bounds and way too short. Too little, too late, not enough — whatever you want to describe it as. They’re a good team. They’re a sound team. They play very good defense. They don’t give you much. When they did pressure, we got the ball over the top, we took advantage of that, but that only happened a couple of times. We’re a good defensive team and they came out and ran the ball six times in the first half, which was a surprise. They made some plays with the passing game and made some plays over the middle into the second half. The crossing pattern there at the end of the game – I’ll have to look at that, but that’s too easy. The run, the final touchdown, was too easy. We had a lot of young guys that had to go in and play and play as hard as they could and they’ll learn from this and hopefully we all will as well. Very disappointed in losing. We didn’t come here to lose. We came to win. It just didn’t happen.”
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