SANTA CLARA – Scoring 30 points and winning before a stadium packed with 49ers fans is the NFL’s most impressive early-season trend.
Thursday night’s extra element: This 30-12 victory over the New York Giants came in the 49ers’ home opener, following expected road wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers (30-7) and the Los Angeles Rams (30-23).
The 49ers, in christening their 10th year at Levi’s Stadium, started their three-game homestand before yet another crowd full of 49ers Faithful donning red jerseys.
Ultimately, the 49ers want to play here for a Super Bowl berth on Jan. 28 as the NFC’s No. 1 seed, and every victory along the way is imperative. Next on their to-do list are the Arizona Cardinals (0-2) and then a playoff rematch with the Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
This marked the 49ers’ 13th consecutive regular-season victory, and among those watching the 49ers dominate in their 1994 throwback jerseys were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers alumni Jerry Rice, Joe Staley, Alex Smith and Richard Sherman, the latter serving as a Prime Video analyst.
With No. 1 receiver Brandon Aiyuk (shoulder) missing his first game since 2020, the 49ers offense had more than enough weapons, led by NFL rushing leader Christian McCaffrey (85 rushing yards, touchdown), professional tackle breaker Deebo Samuel (129 receiving yards, touchdown), and perennial prime-time star George Kittle (90 receiving yards).
Brock Purdy was a bit scattershot (25-of-37) but he surpassed 300 yards (310 yards) for the first time in his eight regular-season starts (all wins). He still hasn’t had a pass intercepted this season.
Not to be forgotten is rookie kicker Jake Moody, who made three field-goal attempts for the third straight game.
In terms of injury scares, Samuel required a medical tent evaluation after a 19-yard reception in the fourth quarter, then returned that same drive for a 27-yard touchdown catch that made it 30-12. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw hobbled off on the ensuing defensive series.
Defensively, the 49ers’ best plays somewhat bookended this affair, those being Nick Bosa’s first sack of the season (to open the Giants’ second possession) and Talanoa Hufanga’s fourth-quarter interception (off a pass deflected by Darren Waller and linebacker Fred Warner).
The Giants (1-2) played without star running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) and two starting linemen, so it wasn’t a surprise that quarterback Daniel Jones failed to muster a capable counterattack.
Moody’s longest kick this game was a 36-yard field goal that pushed the 49ers up by two scores, 23-12, with 12:47 remaining. Moody’s 21-yard field goal on the previous possession felt more like a consolation prize, after Deebo Samuel’s 40-yard, tackle-breaking reception and a pair of third-down penalties against the Giants.
Locked in a 3-3 battle, the 49ers pulled away with second-quarter touchdowns from rookie Ronnie Bell (a 9-yard touchdown on his first NFL catch) and McCaffrey (a 4-yard run, giving him a touchdown run in each game this season).
Setting up McCaffrey’s touchdown was an unnecessary roughness penalty on Leonard Williams’ third-down hit on Purdy. Earlier on that drive, McCaffrey had a 12-yard run on third-and-1 behind blocks from Kittle and Charlie Woerner.
Third-down conversions kept alive the 49ers’ first touchdown drive, appropriately ending with Ronnie Bell’s 9-yard scoring grab on Purdy’s third-and-5 pass to the front left pylon. Bell’s first career touchdown, on his first catch, put the 49ers ahead 10-3, 7:49 before halftime. Earlier third-and-long conversions on that drive: Samuel’s 30-yard catch-and-run (on third-and-15) and McCaffrey’s 17-yard catch-and-run (on third-and-13). Left tackle Trent Williams’ blocks were key on those plays.
As twilight nearly engulfed the field in shadows, Bosa stepped into the spotlight for his first sack of the season, racing untouched off the left edge and dropping Jones for an 8-yard loss at the 2-yard line. The Niners’ second sack came on the Giants’ next possession, with Javon Hargrave bulldozing guard Shane Lemieux on third-and-2, 6:13 before halftime.
49ers Studs and Duds: Deebo Samuel is still the man for San Francisco
49ers live blog: Deep ball to Deebo stretches Niners’ lead over Giants
49ers kicker Jake Moody ready for regular-season home debut on new grass field
How 49ers fans in the Bay Area can watch tonight’s game on TV
49ers vs. Giants: 5 keys to winning home opener in Year 10 at Levi’s Stadium
The Giants pulled within 17-14 when former 49ers running back Matt Breida charged up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown run, five minutes after halftime. Daniel Jones failed to get off a 2-point conversion pass when dropped by Bosa and Arik Armstead.
For the third time in as many games, the 49ers scored on their opening drive, only this time it was via a field goal, a 28-yarder from Moody in his Levi’s Stadium debut. (Disclosure: Moody did make a walk-off field goal in last month’s preseason win against Denver. This kick made him 7-of-7 in regular-season action to officially start his career.)
The 49ers’ shutout bid was gone after the Giants’ opening possession, with Graham Gano making a 44-yard field goal to tie the score at 3, with just 3:18 left in the first quarter.