On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers got one of their best wins of the season, a thrilling victory over the New York Giants at Candlestick Park. There were plenty of contributors to the win, including Alex Smith and Delanie Walker on offense plus Patrick Willis and Justin Smith on defense - you know, the usual gang.
But there were some players who usually contribute, but didn't ... and who probably shouldn't have been playing in the first place. Frank Gore didn't look right in the team's win, and it wasn't solely because the Giants were keying in on the run. Early on in the game, the Giants actually dropped eight players back multiple times, daring Alex Smith to find a hole in their defense to exploit (he did), while Gore seemed to slump big time. He took handoffs standing completely still and stopped entirely to change directions.
Has he lost a step? Of course not - he's probably just still banged up, after being limited in practice all week. Kendall Hunter came in the game and put up respectable yardage and even Anthony Dixon was able to get a couple good runs against New York. Coming into this game, the Giants were giving up 127.1 rushing yards per game, and it should have been the Gore show ... providing he was healthy. In short, he just did not look like a healthy player, and his presence out there hampered the 49ers offense more than it helped.
On the other side of the ball, defensive end Ray McDonald did not have a very good game. It was a better game than Gore had, but it was terribly inconsistent. It seemed like McDonald took several plays off, at times when the ball was snapped he's just stand there - literally stand there - and just watch what happened, instead of constantly fighting to get to the passer. It wasn't a situation where he was beat consistently, he simply didn't try on some plays.
Really, the only explanation is that McDonald wasn't fully healed from his injuries. It's hard to say that he hurt the team altogether, but when the Giants were moving the ball at pivotal points, McDonald was on the field, occasionally taking plays off. Personally, I think the 49ers could stand to see more of Ricky Jean Francois and Kendall Hunter, but it is understandable that the team wanted two of their better players on both sides of the ball to get action against a team as tough of the Giants. It's just that, in this case, neither player seemed 100% and if you're a detriment at times, you need to be on the sidelines.