NFL Nation: Giants-49ers Quick Take 2012

Quick Take: Giants at 49ers

January, 15, 2012
1/15/12
8:07
PM ET
Three things to know about next Sunday's New York Giants-San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park:

1. Home sweet home. Getting the NFC title game at home is a dream scenario for the 49ers. Quarterback Alex Smith has been much, much better at home this season and never better than he was when it counted against New Orleans in the divisional round. His fourth-quarter Total QBR against the Saints was 99.7, the third-highest in a fourth quarter this season. The figure was 78.1 out of 100 for the entire game, continuing a season-long trend. Smith's regular-season QBR was 71.6 at home, up from 29.3 on the road. Smith played well during the 49ers' 27-20 victory over the Giants at Candlestick in Week 10. Frank Gore left the game with an injury, leaving Smith to carry more of the load. He completed 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown, one interception, two sacks, no fumbles and six rushes covering 27 yards. His confidence should be higher than ever.

2. Manning-Brady Super Bowl talk. Think the 49ers noticed their underdog status at home against the lower-seeded Saints? Yes, they did. They can also expect to hear others salivating over a potential Super Bowl rematch between the Giants and New England Patriots. A storyline pitting Tom Brady against Eli Manning will have great appeal outside the Bay Area. If only the 49ers would go quietly. Recent history could be on the 49ers' side. The last time an NFC West team reached a Super Bowl, Arizona unexpectedly got the NFC title game at home against an NFC East opponent. The Cardinals beat the Eagles to advance, heading off an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.

3. Big plays in focus. The 49ers' defense beat up the Saints for three-plus quarters, only to collapse late in the game as both teams suddenly found the end zone repeatedly. San Francisco gave up 12 pass plays of 40-plus yards during the regular season, tied for fifth-most in the league. The Saints managed none until hitting two for touchdowns in the final minutes Saturday. Manning completed passes for 36 and 32 yards against the 49ers in Week 10, but none longer. He barely overthrew a wide-open Mario Manningham for what would have been a long touchdown in the final six minutes. That is one area for the 49ers to watch against the Giants.

Quick Take: Giants at 49ers

January, 15, 2012
1/15/12
7:55
PM ET
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.

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