Sunday, January 15, 2012
Quick Take: Giants at 49ers
By Dan Graziano
Three things to know about next week's NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park:
1. Another rematch. The 49ers beat the Giants 27-20 on Nov. 13 in San Francisco. The Giants were 6-2 heading into that game, and the loss began a four-game losing streak from which they nearly didn't recover. The Giants gained 395 against that tough San Francisco defense that day, including an impressive 93 on the ground without an injured Ahmad Bradshaw. But Eli Manning threw two interceptions to go with his 311 passing yards, and that was the difference in the game. As was the case in Green Bay on Sunday, Manning must make sure to limit turnovers against a 49ers defense that likes to take advantage of them.
2. Stop the run. The Giants didn't have Bradshaw for that game, but the 49ers also didn't really have top running back Frank Gore, who rushed the ball six times for zero yards and missed most of the game with an ankle injury. He's back and healthy now, and a great threat in the run game to go along with Kendall Hunter. The 49ers are different from the teams the Giants have been playing lately, in that they're not a high-powered passing offense with tons of downfield weapons. The Giants will have to stay tough and disciplined up front. They need to lean on their pass rush to rattle Alex Smith, sure, but they may have to dial down their usual aggressiveness in this one.
3. Playoff history: The Giants are 3-4 all-time against the 49ers in the postseason, including some memorable and classic games. The most recent playoff matchup was nine years ago -- the game in which the Giants had a 38-14 lead in the third quarter but gave up 25 straight points and lost to Jeff Garcia. The last time the Giants won a playoff game in San Francisco was the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 20, 1991 to advance to the Super Bowl in which they would defeat the Buffalo Bills.