Going into yesterday's showdown in venerable Candlestick Park, the San Francisco 49ers were the consensus pick to win their rematch with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The Niners came into the game 4-1, having just achieved a franchise record of gaining over 600 yards in their previous victory over Buffalo. Going back to their defeat of the NY Jets two weeks previous, the Niners appeared to be a juggernaut, having outscored their past two opponents by a combined score of 78-3.
The Giants, meanwhile, had struggled, and were a 4-point underdog. Some thought the spread might be more.
But led by coach Tom Coughlin, the Giants kicked San Francisco up and down the field all day long yesterday, humiliating the upstart Niner team 26-3, in a game that wasn't that close.
It reinforced the impression that though they may not be the best team week-to-week, the Giants are an incredibly clutch team led by their star quarterback, Eli Manning. If you forget, the Giants barely squeaked into the post-season last year with a 9-7 record. But Manning led them to upset victories in Green Bay, San Francisco and then ultimately over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
And the 49ers and their quarterback, Alex Smith? Despite the resuscitation of his career by coach Jim Harbaugh, Smith showed that when the 49ers are losing, he can't bring them back in a big game. The score was only 10-3 at the half, yet a big Giants kickoff return to start the second half set the tone which had already been established in the first half for the G-men. And how about those fantastic catches by Giant receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz? It was New York's day all afternoon long.