When San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan goes to call a play, his biggest challenge isn't selecting a play to get a first down. He can do that easily. His concern is finding enough touches for all of his superstars.
Even on Thursday, when the 49ers were without receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the NFC's offensive player of the week in the season opener, it's not like they were lacking. George Kittle is one of the NFL's best tight ends. Deebo Samuel was an All-Pro a couple of seasons ago. Christian McCaffrey scored in his 12th straight game, including playoffs, on Thursday, tying a team record set by some old-timer named Jerry Rice. Some of San Francisco's backups could start for other teams. It seems unfair, especially with how good San Francisco's defense is.
The 49ers were in a competitive game in the second half, but they were simply too talented for the New York Giants. Samuel, who had a big night with Aiyuk on the sideline due to a shoulder injury, put the game away with a 27-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The 49ers moved to 3-0 with a 30-12 win.
There are some teams that would love to have one alpha playmaker who could run through multiple defenders for bunches of extra yards. When Aiyuk is healthy, the 49ers have four of those players.
49ers offense has a good night
On the other side of the ball, the Giants missed Saquon Barkley. They struggled for any consistent offense without Barkley, who was out due to an ankle injury. Score another one for valuing running backs.
The contrast was stark. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was helpless without Barkley. If you prefer Kittle to Darren Waller, and most would, nobody in the Giants' skill-position group on Thursday would start for the 49ers. It's not really a debate. Jones was held to 137 passing yards. The Giants had just 29 yards rushing.
With or without Barkley, the Giants might not have moved it much. They battled to stay in the game, but the 49ers' defense is tough. That's part of what makes San Francisco an elite team and a Super Bowl contender. There will be days when all the praise goes to that unit.
Thursday was about San Francisco's offense. It didn't matter which 49ers player you started for your fantasy football team because they all helped out.
Shanahan is one of the game's best playcallers, and everyone seems to get their turn. Kittle had his biggest game of the season with 90 yards. Samuel wowed everyone by breaking tackles in the open field on his way to 129 yards. McCaffrey had 119 total yards. The 49ers also have arguably the greatest offensive tackle ever, Trent Williams, and he rarely gets mentioned in these discussions because of all the other stars.
Brock Purdy just has to get the ball to them on time. Plenty of NFL quarterbacks probably watched on Thursday, wishing they had that kind of talent to work with.
Giants hung around into second half
The Giants battled hard. The game was tied 3-3 after one quarter. In the third quarter, Matt Breida scored a touchdown, and the Giants trailed 17-12. A two-point conversion would've pulled New York within three points, but the 49ers thwarted that. Still, the Giants were in the game.
That didn't last long. The 49ers got a couple of field goals to extend the lead. Then Purdy threw deep to Samuel, who made a nice adjustment down the sideline and pulled it in for a touchdown. It was 30-12 at that point, and there wasn't much reason for the Thursday audience to keep the game on.
It says something that the Giants didn't play that badly and still lost by 18 points. It's hard to keep up with the 49ers. You can't take all their offensive weapons away, and even if you do, good luck scoring much on their defense. The biggest question for the 49ers this season was whether Purdy could repeat his storybook rookie season, and he has been very good through three games.
The 49ers are a dangerous team. Maybe some team will figure out what their weakness is, but it's hard to find it.