SANTA CLARA — With a few seconds left in the 49ers’ first win of the season and their first win of the Kyle Shanahan Era, a 31-21 victory against the New York Giants, general manager John Lynch was on the sideline hugging players.
Players were on the sideline hugging Shanahan. Waiting in line to hug him. Even Lynch waited in line. Eric Reid cut to the front and poured water on Shanahan’s head. And as Shanahan walked across the field after the game, he playfully punched the 49ers PR director in the shoulder, as if to say, “We won!”
Shanahan was in love with everyone and everyone was in love with him.
“When you lose nine in a row, you learn to savor the moments and enjoy these,” Shanahan said at his postgame press conference. “It was tough work for us to get our first win, and we got it. I think the guys knew how much it meant to me, and I knew how much it meant to them.”
Center Daniel Kilgore knows exactly how much the win meant to Shanahan.
“We don’t expect outsiders to understand,” Kilgore said at his locker after the game. “They think they know, but they don’t know. (Shanahan) has been a part of a lot of teams, a lot of wins, some great wins, some bad losses. For him to have his first win as the 49ers head coach, it’s special. Growing up in the Bay Area, his father coached here — it’s huge.”
As Shanahan walked off the field toward the locker room, defensive end Elvis Dumervil grabbed Shanahan and lifted him off his feet.
“We believe in you, Coach,” Dumervil told Shanahan. “It hasn’t gone the way we want it to, but we know we’re heading in the right direction.”
Granted, the 49ers were playing a bad Giants team that has won only one game this year. But the 49ers played a clean, efficient, smart game. They didn’t drop any passes, they committed only six penalties and they were balanced on offense.
Last week against the Cardinals, Shanahan called 57 passes and 16 runs, Against the Giants, he called 25 passes and 33 runs. Balance.
Running back Carlos Hyde carried the ball 17 times for 98 yards. Backup running back Matt Breida carried the ball nine times for 55 yards, including 33-yard touchdown run that put away the game.
“It was an outside zone play,” Breida said. “The offensive line and receivers did a great job of blocking. I saw the cutback and there was no one back there. I hit the hole, and I ran to the touchdown.”
The 49ers’ commitment to their run game helped protect quarterback C.J. Beathard, who took 15 hits and five sacks last week. Against the Giants, he took just two hits and no sacks.
For the first time this season, Beathard wasn’t under constant pressure. And he played well. He completed 19 of 25 passes, threw two touchdowns, ran for one and posted a quarterback rating of 123.4. That was the third-highest passer rating by a starting quarterback this week, behind Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Jared Goff of the L.A. Rams.