SAN FRANCISCO — The 49ers opened their pocketbooks in the offseason to keep their highly rated defense intact and to completely retool their receiving corps, all with one goal in mind — to bridge the small gap that kept them from being the best team in the NFL last year.
Judging by Sunday's 26-3 loss to the New York Giants at Candlestick Park on Sunday, the gap may have actually widened.
Almost nine months after the Giants came into this stadium and outlasted the 49ers in overtime in the NFC championship game, the defending Super Bowl champs recorded a much more emphatic victory. New York dominated every phase of the game, intercepting Alex Smith three times, chewing up yardage at key points of the game and dominating on special teams.
"It hurt. It hurt a lot," tight end Vernon Davis said. "We expect to go out there and get the win, but we couldn't pull it off for some reason. Have to go back and look at the film. But I'm sure we made a lot of mistakes. We cost ourselves the game."
It was the worst loss of the Jim Harbaugh era, and it was especially baffling on the heels of successive blowout wins over the Jets and Bills. Last week, the 49ers set a franchise record for total yardage. This week it was Harbaugh's team that got buffaloed.