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On Monday, after having some time to digest both his performance on the field as well as the shameful aftermath of fans sending him threats through social media, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams sat down with ESPN Radio for an interview to talk about what had transpired and had some pretty profound things to say in dealing with the changing landscape of communication between athletes and fans.
"It was kind of shocking," Williams said of receiving the threats. "I kind of had been forewarned before I even got to the point where I could check it. I was forewarned by some of my family members and some of my friends that were there to not to look at the Twitter and the Facebook because it was going to be pretty bad."
Williams acknowledged how blurred the lines are between athletes and fans now that fans have somewhat direct access to them due to social media. He also directed thanks to those who have supported him.
"True 49ers fans have come to my support although they realize that I made a mistake, just like I realize it," he said. "I made a mistake in a key situation, but people realize I've busted my tail all year and I think my teammates realize that, too. Things happen in the game of football and you've got to bounce back from it. You've got to realize that you've made a mistake and own up to it."
Have to give Williams credit for not reacting and keeping his head held high. But he was even a little shocked at how quickly his teammates came to his defense after the game.
"I was kind of surprised by that, actually. Just because I felt like I let everybody down in the locker room," he said. "Just to get the response that I got from those guys, everybody basically on the team, coming up to me and telling me they appreciated my effort and they knew I was trying to make a play. It wasn't all on me, we lose as a team and win as a team."
Last night's NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants earned the highest TV ratings in 17 years, according to tweets from FOX Sports Vice President of Communications Dan P. Bell.
The game earned a 33.4/48 overnight rating/share which was the highest overnight for any conference championship game since 1995 when the 49ers and Dallas Cowboys game came in at 34.2/57.
The 33.4/48 mark was also 11% higher than last year's game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, which came in at 30.0/52. The game saved the best for last as it peaked during the overtime session from 10 to 10:30 pm EST at 39.3/55.
The combination of the resurgent 49ers and a New York-based team proved to be just what FOX wanted. Having one prominent west coast team against a prominent east coast team definitely helped.
For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.
CSNBayArea.com's Ray Ratto blogged about Kyle Williams. Poor, poor Kyle Williams. The young receiver had a game to forget as he positioned himself as reason no. 1 for the San Francisco 49ers losing the NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants, 20-17, Sunday night.
"It was just one of those situations," Williams said. "Just one of those things."
They were words of a young man who still hasn't wrapped his mind around what happened to him and to his team. A punt he should have gotten away from nipped his knee, gave the Giants possession and led to a touchdown. A punt he caught was stripped from his possession and led to Lawrence Tynes' game-winning field goal. All the work the defense put in to hold back Eli Manning's offense was for naught. 10 points on the board due to miscues by Williams.
"I just wanted to turn it up the field, and the guy (Devin Thomas) just reached in and made a play," Williams said. "It's hard to be the last guy to touch the ball in a game and have what happened happen in a game of this significance, but it is what it is."
Ratto spoke of the nature of sports, how we won't know until later whether or not Williams will have a chance to redeem himself or will these two plays haunt him for the rest of his life. For Williams' sake, let's hope for the former. But for now he must deal with the NFC Championship game being remembered as the Kyle Williams game.
The San Francisco 49ers suffered a heartbreaker loss to the New York Giants in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game. The turning point of the evening came in overtime. After the Niners defense had stopped the Giants for the second time in the first OT quarter, Kyle Williams fumbled a punt return which gave New York excellent field position and led to the game-winning field goal.
The fumble was Williams' second gaffe of the game, both of which led to Giants scores. After the game ended, Twitter exploded with shameful comments badmouthing Kyle Williams and addressed to his personal Twitter account. It was a gross display of the worst aspects of professional sports fandom, with most people going over the top with venomous tirades. Some of the tweets were tantamount to digital-age death threats.
Thankfully, many 49ers players were quite vocal in supporting their teammate following the game. Here are a few Twitter comments from various 49ers player accounts:
It is a shame that so many people who consider themselves 49ers fans decided to get ugly over the unfortunate fumble. Williams is only in his second year of professional football and was playing his role in the Championship Game as a result of a Ted Ginn Jr. injury. Williams likely still has a bright future ahead of him and will hopefully provide many more opportunities to redeem himself and provide 49ers fans with a great many more positive memories than negative ones.
The San Francisco 49ers saw a magical season come to an abrupt end on Sunday against the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game. New York won the game fair and square (save for one very questionable call, which will be touched up on), but the 49ers shot themselves in the foot an awful lot. In other words, they made the game much harder to win than it should have been. It was a situation exacerbated by several circumstances.
What were the main reasons they didn't win the game? Well, obviously they didn't have more points than the other team when the clock ran out. That's the main one (call me "John Madden"), but what things just broke down and put this game out of reach?
Kyle Williams made several errors on special teams that cost 'em, there's no escaping that. He's a very promising wide receiver prospect and he has the unshakable support of his 49ers teammates, but there's no getting away from the fact that he made two incredibly costly errors on special teams. If he's not going to field the punt, he should get out of the way, and in overtime in those conditions, he should have called a fair catch.
The blown fumble call where Ahmad Bradshaw was given the early whistle at first contact, or virtually first contact. It would have given the 49ers the ball back in field goal range. Instead, the referee blew the whistle way too early and it was ruled that his forward progress was stopped.
Greg Roman and the 49ers play-calling struggled mightily. It's not necessarily that Roman didn't run the ball while the 49ers were doing it well, it was the fact that the runs called had little chance of success. They ran Gore from the shotgun and ran multiple sweeps. On what plane of existence is the shotgun run the go-to run? They had personnel in that was tipping them off to a run, on top of that. Which eliminates everything that is good about the shotgun run: surprise. There were multiple drives in which the 49ers ran the same pass play followed by the same shotgun run. Any defense could stop that.
The 2012 NFC Championship Game, as expected, was a hard-fought and close affair. The hometown San Francisco 49ers ended up on the losing end of a heartbreaker as they fell to the New York Giants by a final score of 20-17. Here are some of the video highlights of the game that gave Bay Area fans one last chance to cheer for their resurgent 2011-12 49ers.
The first significant play of the game was the one that got the scoring started. The Niners jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on this 76-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis.
The much-heralded 49ers defense came up with a great many important stops of the potent Giants offense in the game, including this fourth-down tackle of Brandon Jacobs in the first quarter that gave San Francisco the ball on a turnover on downs.
For much of the game, Eli Manning and wide receiver Victor Cruz were the most prolific tandem in terms of yardage. Cruz made many spectacular catches, including this pinpoint grab to start the second quarter.
That catch set up this Manning pass to Bear Pascoe for a Giants touchdown to tie the game 7-7 in the second quarter.
The Giants would take the lead before halftime on a 31-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal. The score remained 10-7 in favor of the Giants until late in the third quarter, when Alex Smith again connected with Vernon Davis, this time on a 28-yard pass into the end zone to allow the Niners to retake the lead, 14-10.
Punt returner Kyle Williams make a huge error in the fourth quarter. After another big 49ers stop, he attempted to get out of the way of a punt, but replays showed that the ball bounced and glanced off his knee, allowing New York to recover. That set up excellent field position for the Giants, who shortly thereafter reclaimed a 17-14 lead when Manning found Mario Manningham in the end zone with a 17-yard touchdown pass.
The 49ers were able to tie the game in the fourth quarter with a 25-yard David Akers field goal and hang on to force the game into overtime. They halted the Giants on their first two possessions, but once again Kyle Williams played the goat as he fumbled the second New York punt return of overtime, allowing the Giants to recover.
Lawrence Tynes again came on for another 31-yard field goal, which would prove to be the game winner.
A very tough loss for the 49ers and particularly for Kyle Williams, but it was a season that the players and fans have every reason to look back on fondly.
The San Francisco 49ers played a pretty srong all-around game on the ground game and on defense. They got great special teams plays from their punter and their kicker. There's a very good chance they'd still be playing (or already be booking their tickets for Indianapolis) if their punt returner could have held onto the football.
Kyle Williams had his second fumble of the game midway through overtime when he was stripped of the football, and Devin Thomas recovered the ball at the San Francisco 24. A few Ahmad Bradshaw rushes set up a Lawrence Tynes 31 yard field goal.
It looked like the San Francisco 49ers had taken momentum away from the New York Giants when they pressured Eli Manning and forced a punt deep in their own territory, but a miscue by Kyle Williams on the punt return gave the football back to New York. Eli Manning then made a connection with Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Jacobs before finding Mario Manningham in the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown to make it 17-14.
The 49ers responded quickly to tie things up. A big return by Williams put San Francisco at midfield. Two big rushes by Alex Smith for 17 yards and Kendall Hunter for 18 yards set up a David Akers 25 yard field goal to tie things up with just over five-and-a-half minutes left. Both San Francisco and New York's offenses stalled after that, and couldn't get into field goal range after that.
The Giants won the toss in overtime to get the ball first. Click here for a discussion of playoff overtime rules.
The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants have battled their way into overtime at Candlestick during the NFC Championship game, with a new set of rules that they must abide by.
If the team that receives the ball first scores a touchdown, the game is over. Other than that, the other team will have a chance to answer. So if the Giants kick a field goal on their opening possession, San Francisco would be given one chance to either match the other team’s field goal or win the game with a touchdown of their own.
It’s already been quite the heart-attack game, but it’s going to get worse before it gets better at the Stick.
However, if the teams are even after their first possessions, the game reverts to a sudden-death format.
With the New York Giants facing 3rd down late in the third quarter down 14-10, Eli Manning had a tough throw to make to try and keep the football moving down the field. But the San Francisco 49ers defense has been swarming to the ball.
Unfortunately, it looks as if they took that a little too literally on this matchup, as Tarell Brown bore the brunt of one of his fellow 49ers defenders.
Brown appears to be out, as he went to the locker room with neck and thigh injuries. Tramaine Brock will take his place if Brown is unable to return for the rest of the game. And Manning made Brown pay later on in the game, when he found Mario Manningham (Brock's assignment) for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants are only one quarter away from the Super Bowl, and it's going to be a tight one down the stretch. But another Alex Smith to Vernon Davis connection have pushed the Niners ahead once
again, taking a 14-10 lead into the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park.
Both offenses came out struggling, trading punts to begin the second half. But Alex Smith and the 49ers got good field position around the 50 after a short Sean Weatherford punt. A 21-yard check-down to Frank Gore would set up a Vernon Davis 28 yard touchdown reception to give the 49ers back the lead with about six minutes left in the quarter.
The 49ers finished the quarter driving, including a defensive personal foul to set them up nicely in Giants territory.
Smith is 7/15 for 145 with two TD's, Frank Gore has 13 carries for 67 yards, while Vernon leads the way through the air with 101 yards on only two catches.
The San Francisco 49ers offense was sputtering against the New York Giants, but broke out late in the third quarter with another deep pass from Vernon Davis to Alex Smith, to take back the lead 14-10 in the NFC Championship at Candlestick Park.
After a nice check-down to Frank Gore for 21 yards, the Niners found themselves deep in Giants territory. Vernon ran a very similar route to his 73 yard catch earlier in the game, but would connect for a 28 yard connection, this time on the opposite side of the field:
That makes it four postseason touchdowns for Vernon now, while the Niners defense will try to lock down Eli Manning and the rest of the offense for another quarter or so to get themselves into the Super Bowl.
Eli Manning finally put the New York Giants on the board in the first half after another great drive. Manning connected with Victor Cruz down the right sideline for 36 yards to bring the ball into San Francisco territory. Manning then completed two more passes (one to Cruz, one to Nicks) before finding Bear Pascoe for a six yard touchdown to tie the game.
The 49ers have stalled on offense their last two drives, allowing the Giants to move down the field their final possession, and it was Manning again finding Cruz. Eli connected with Cruz for catches of 11, 15, 17 and 13 yards to get the Giants into field goal range, and Lawrence Tynes kicked a 31 yard field goal. Manning has completed 16 of 27 passes for 181 yards, and Cruz has eight catches for 125 yards.
Alex Smith needs to get get going. Other than his 73 yard touchdown to Vernon Davis, the 49ers quarterback is 1 for 6 for six yards. San Francisco does have 144 yards of offense, but they need to get the ball moving through the air if Manning keeps on throwing the way he's throwing.
Candlestick Park is filled to the rafters with hungry San Francisco 49ers fans this Sunday, looking to get back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1994 against the New York Giants. Both teams are dealing with soggy conditions, but Alex Smith and the Niners are dealing with it a bit better, taking a 7-0 leading into second quarter.
The Niners got a stop on the Giants first offensive possession, then Alex Smith dimed a 73 yard touchdown pass to Veron Davis to take the 7-0 lead. The Giants would drive down the field on their next possesion, but were stopped on this fourth-and-1 attempt while close to field goal range:
Eli Manning had some issues with the wet conditions in the quarter, going 6/11 for 46 yards. Hakeem Nicks leads the G-Men with 2 catches and 17 yards, but injured his shoulder and went to the locker room. He returned to the sideline and is probable to return.
As for the Niners, Mike Iupati had his ankle rolled up by Kendall Hunter on the 49ers first possession, leaving for a series then returned. Unfortunately he went back into the locker room and now is questionable to return.
The San Francisco 49ers picked up an early first down on a nice Frank Gore first down thanks to a great cutback run against overpursuing New York Giants defenders, but the drive eventually stalled after an Alex Smith incompletion on third down. The Giants picked up a few first downs with connections between Eli Manning and Victor Cruz as well as Hakeem Nicks, getting the ball close to midfield. But the 49ers defense held up with a sack-fumble of Manning to force a Niners punt.
And when San Francisco got the ball back, Smith went right to work and found Vernon Davis.
You might notice that Davis might have stepped out of bounds.
But after review, the officials let the call stand as the evidence was not totally conclusive. Davis did get flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and excessive celebration after posing on the camera stand, but the Giants were stopped on their next drive, so no harm done.
San Francisco is up a touchdown early in the NFC Championship Game.
The San Francisco 49ers suffered a tough early injury in the first minutes of the 2012 NFC Championship Game. The 49ers offensive line has been one of their strongest part, but after a rush by Kendall Hunter, Hunter went down on the right leg of Mike Iupati.
Giants get first down. Iupati got ankle re-wrapped and his walking around. Looks like he's going to give it a go on 49ers next possession.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) January 22, 2012
Mike Iupati announced with a right ankle injury with "probable" return: I'd say very probable as he's on the field for the #49ers next drive— Mindi Bach (@MBachCSN) January 22, 2012
Iupati is one of the most impressive blockers for San Francisco especially in his young age, and his loss would definitely felt. If Iupati can come back and play effectively for the rest of this game, it'd be huge for the 49ers. It's still scoreless early in Candlestick Park.
The San Francisco 49ers have released their list of inactives for the NFC Championship Game, and one big inactive is wide receiver Ted Ginn. Ginn has been returning kicks for the 49ers most of the season, but his knee injury will keep him out against the New York Giants. This could leave the Niners with only Michael Crabtree as a reliable receiver on the outside to complement Vernon Davis.
Good news for the 49ers is that Delanie Walaker is active. Walker will be crucial with Ginn out to keep the ball moving on the ground for the 49ers with his blocking and pass-catching.
Here's the full list of inactives for the 49ers.
The San Francisco 49ers will host the New York Giants on Sunday in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. The event is one of the biggest events in the city since at least the 2010 World Series, but in all honestly since probably a lot longer than that.
As crazy as traffic was for last week's game, it will likely only be worse on Sunday. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has been kind enough to update their website with some specific information on how to reach the park via public transportation.
There are several shuttles and options available to you:
From the Light Rail: T Third to Gilman/Paul, then 87 Candlestick Shuttle
From BART: 75X express service from Balboa Park BART/Muni Station
Bus: 77X express service from the Van Ness corridor (pre-game from California; post-game to North Point)
Bus: 78X express service from the Park Presidio/19th Avenue corridor
Bus: 79X express service from Downtown
Special round-trip fares apply on the Express (X) bus routes, as follows: Adult fare: $12 or valid pass plus $8. Youth, Senior, Disabled and Medicare card holders fare: $10 or valid pass plus $8.
Here is a handy map, courtesy of MUNI:
Safe travels to the game!
Of course, this Sunday will bear witness to the AFC Championship Game and the NFC Championship game, as two lucky teams will punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. Many fans in the Bay Area are hoping one of those two teams will be representing Northern California.
We have all of your pertinent viewing and listening information right here.
The AFC Championship Game is perhaps the game you're not as familiar with, but the teams are certainly no strangers to football fans. Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and the defense-first Baltimore Ravens will visit the offensively-inclined New England Patriots, led by the always-formidable -- but this week, slightly banged-up -- Tom Brady.
Time: Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 PM PT/ 3:00 PM ET at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
TV: The game will be televised on CBS and on NFL Red Zone. Your announcers for the game are Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Steve Tasker.
Radio: If you have satellite radio, you can listen to the game on Sirius 86.
Betting Line: The Patriots are currently favored at anywhere from 7 to 9 points, according to our friends over at OddsShark. The over/under is 50 to 50.5 points.
Then it's the game that the entire Bay Area has been waiting for all week. The NFC Championship pitting your hometown San Francisco 49ers against the New York Giants. This will be the historic eighth postseason meeting between these two teams, as you're all well-aware of by now.
Time: The game will begin at 3:30 PM PT/ 6:30 PM ET from Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
TV: The game will be televised on FOX and on the NFL Red Zone channel. Your announcers will be Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver and Chris Myers.
Radio: If you have satellite radio, you can listen to the game on Sirius 86.
Betting Line: The 49ers are the slimmest of favorites here, favored at 1.5 to 3 points over the visitors. The over/under is between 41.5 and 42.5.
For in-depth analysis and information leading into this weekend's games check out the following SB Nation NFL blogs: Big Blue View (New York Giants), Niners Nation (San Francisco 49ers),Baltimore Beatdown (Baltimore Ravens) and Pats Pulpit (New England Patriots).
The San Francisco 49ers have been through quite a lot to arrive at their breakout season in 2011. After years of struggle and futility, they have overcome the naysayers and stand just one win away from reaching a Super Bowl long before anyone could have predicted. On Sunday, they will host the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game and potentially head to Indianapolis to try for a Super Bowl ring.
Cam Inman at the Mercury News posted a great article on Saturday about 49ers running back Frank Gore has been through it all in his seven-year career and is a perfect embodiment of the surprising resurgence of the team. The former third-round draft pick has been the star of the 49ers through many lean years and is now the leading rusher in franchise history.
Gore had this to say about the amazing season in San Francisco:
It's a blessing to be in the situation we are as a team, especially looking back in my past. You look at how everyone is surprised and can't believe this team, where we're at now. But we always knew what we had in this locker room, now that we've got coach (Jim) Harbaugh and his coaching staff leading us the right way.
Gore had his second-highest year for rushing yards in 2011 and is now thinking about the possibility of playing in his first Super Bowl. The 49ers will be counting on him in Sunday's NFC Championship Game and you can bet that everything Gore has been through has prepared him for this game.
The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to host the New York Giants on Sunday in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. The contest will be yet another meeting between the postseason rivals, who have faced off in playoff games seven times before.
But according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, the rivalry isn't what the Giants have in mind.
The Giants didn't set out on this journey hoping to find redemption. They're not flying across the country looking for revenge
This game, to the Giants, is not about evening the score with the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, it has nothing to do with the 49ers at all.
"They're just in the way of where we want to be," said linebacker Michael Boley. "Obviously, that's the Super Bowl."
Vacchiano's article deals with the Giants getting their confidence back when their season was in danger of spiraling out of control just a few weeks ago. But the comments by Boly and this one by safety Antrel Rolle are very interesting:
We're not going to be denied at this point. We understand what we have as a team. It's not all about talent. It's about chemistry. We're gelling at this point. Coaches and players are on the same page at the same time.
We have one goal in mind, which is to win the championship.
That's all well and good, but the Giants should probably be focusing all of their efforts on winning this coming Sunday. The 49ers can't afford to take anything for granted, so perhaps their focus will lead to a Giants defeat in the NFC Championship Game.
Candlestick Park will see possibly the wildest crowd in history on Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers host the New York Giants in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. The 49ers organization has already announced that it will be beefing up security at the game in case the excitement proves to be too much for some fans, but officials are hoping that fans will take advantage of a little-used service.
Shoshana Walter of The Bay Citizen reports that although the text service Badfan has been available at Candlestick park for three years, many fans are either unaware of the service, or use it incorrectly. The idea of the service is that it is an anonymous way to report unruly, out-of-line, or hostile fans to stadium security. The way it works is that signs are posted instructing fans to text "BADFAN," the issue and location of the incident to 41513. The texts go straight to stadium security. Unfortunately, the service could use with some more awareness as to its positive aspects.
About half of the text messages sent to the system are pranks or fakes, according to team officials. A significant number of texts are useless to security officers because they do not include location information.
During a preseason game with the Raiders last summer marked by violence in the stands, stadium security officials received only about 20 text messages that were not fakes or pranks, but 90 requests for medical service, including one for a man who was beaten unconscious in a restroom, and another for a fan who was shot several times in the stomach in the parking lot after the game
The San Francisco police chief announced that there will be 25 percent more officers than usual at Sunday's game.
The San Francisco 49ers scored a huge upset victory over the New Orleans Saints last Saturday to earn home field advantage in the 2012 NFC Championship game against the New York Giants. That game will take place on Sunday, although there is a big chance the 49ers would not be playing for a chance at a Super Bowl appearance if not for their standout tight end Vernon Davis.
Mike Tierney of The National ran a story on Davis that focused on the growth that the San Francisco player has made since being called out by then-interim coach Mike Singletary in 2008. Davis was sent to the locker room during a game for not being what the coach considered to be a "team player." After that game, Davis found himself as the subject of an angry rant by Singletary about selfish players.
Davis himself has commented on how that tirade by Singletary changed his career for the better. Davis in 2010 is a much different player, to be sure. He was responsible for several key catches against the Saints, including the eventual game-winner. After catching the touchdown, Davis headed to the sidelines, where he embraced current head coach Jim Harbaugh while being overcome by tears of joy. A drastic departure from the selfish braggart that Singletary had so many issues with. Davis made the following comment earlier this week:
It's not about me.
Everyone is waiting for me to complain this year about the opportunities, but I started telling myself that this game is bigger than you.
That maturity and growth by Davis, both on the field and off, is a huge part of why the San Francisco 49ers are now just one win away from the Super Bowl.
The San Francisco 49ers will host the New York Giants on Sunday in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. If the 49ers win, they will earn a trip to the Super Bowl, something which has not happened in quite some time. The entire Bay Area is breathlessly anticipating the game, which has become one of the hottest tickets in the city in recent memory.
According to an Associated Press article via Sports Illustrated, the 49ers are well aware of the anticipation and equally well aware that the crowd has the potential to get out of hand. In preparation for what is sure to be the hottest crowd possible, they are beefing up security at Candlestick Park.
Lots more information can be found in the SI.com article, but here is one of the key takeaways for what ticket holders can expect on Sunday:
Undercover police will be dressed in Giants' garb and on the lookout for nasty fans. Giants ticketholders will be handed a card as they enter Candlestick Park with details on how to contact police if they feel threatened. And more security cameras and undercover police officers will be in place to identify abusive fans.
Season ticketholders have also been warned to follow the NFL Fan Code of Conduct: no foul or abusive language or obscene gestures and no verbal or physical abuse of opposing team fans.
So have fun, cheer loud, but please be safe out there.
The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to host the New York Giants on Sunday in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. The rains came to San Francisco this week, although not as much as 49ers head coach might have liked. Harbaugh held a press conference on Friday following team practice and had some comments about the weather.
Harbaugh stated that the 49ers were able to get some practice throwing and catching the wet ball, as well as adapting to the surface and the cleats. He noted that the rain was light and he wished it had rained harder. He was then asked about whether he expects the footing to be good on the field at Candlestick Park come game time.
I expect it to be pretty good. You don't know how much it's going to rain on Sunday, but it'll be covered. It's a good field. It was good last week. Put in before the Steelers game. Should be good.
Harbaugh was also asked whether he had had an opportunity to stop and take in all of the success that the 49ers have experienced in this surprise comeback season.
No. I can only speak for myself. The challenge we have in front of us, and really our mindset, or focus has been on our preparation. The mindset that the only thing we have to fear is being unprepared. It's especially important against a team like the Giants. We knew when we played them in November that the Giants would be a team that would go deep into the playoffs. Just as we had foreseen, they are. Fortunately we're here, too. Get one shot and plan on giving it our best.
It sounds like the team is focused and prepared, although they're still hoping for more rain.
While most of the preview material has revolved around the San Francisco 49ers' secondary against the New York Giants' receivers, the biggest thing to watch will be the New York defense against the San Francisco offense. That's because so much has changed in that regard since the first meeting. San Francisco's offense will look much different, and that's certainly a good thing.
Aside from the fact that Alex Smith is infinitely more confident this go-round, the 49ers don't have Braylon Edwards messing things up in the end zone. Maybe that sounds harsh, but it's absolutely true. He was a liability on the field and there was multiple points in which he and Alex were out of sync, costing the 49ers in the red zone.
Plus, Frank Gore will be a factor this time around. He left the first meeting with zero yards off of six carries, and probably shouldn't have played in the first place. Everyone knew he wasn't 100 percent going into that game, but now Gore is as healthy as he can possibly be and he's eyeing the goal he's had little chance of sniffing his entire career: a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
Don't buy into the hype when it comes to the New York defense. It has looked great the last couple of outings, but overall, they've shown they can be beat. They're ranked 19th in the league in regards to stopping the run, lending credibility to the fact that Gore's health will be a factor in this one. They also were ranked 27th in the NFL in total defense, helped along by a poor pass defense that ranked among the bottom four in the NFL.
One thing they can do is get to the quarterback. But with a healthy Gore, this could lead to them biting on run plays and giving up big plays to Gore, who is always looking to take advantage of the smallest opportunity to break one big. Alex also should be looking to get the ball out early. Really, it's hard to see how the Giants' defense will really shut down the 49ers at this point.
San Francisco 49er head coach Jim Harbaugh took to the podium Friday afternoon at team headquarters, taking ome time to discuss the Niners offensive line as well as the importance of preparation for a week such as this.
What kind of confidence do you have in your offensive line and the challenge that they have?
"A lot. A lot of confidence in our offensive line. Both those groups, on both sides of the ball, defensive line and offensive line, have really been the tip of the spear for this football team. Both with their physical play, their attitude. It's been a team attitude. It's been a selfless attitude. That's why I say that. Probably haven't talked that much about the offensive line, just in terms of just how pleased we are with them. [T] Joe Staley, [C] Jonathan Goodwin, [G] Mike Iupati, [G] Adam Snyder, [G] Chilo Rachal, and [T] Anthony Davis and [T Alex] Boone has done a nice job. Those seven guys. We've talked about them as starters from the very beginning and they've all contributed in a big way for us this year."
Coach also was asked about the stomach bug that has been going around the Giants locker room lately, adding some interesting commentary on the situation:
There's been a stomach bug apparently going through the Giants. This time of year with so much at stake, you're not going to say you don't care that they might have some illness, but what's your reaction to that?
"We've had some bugs go around, too, this season. In fact, [CB] Chris Culliver last week at this time on Friday he didn't participate in practice. When I checked on him, he was in the training room in the doctor's office and he had a 100-and-some degree temperature. He looked like he would have had to die to get better. He got a great night's sleep that night. Came back on Saturday, got some I-V and some fluid in him. Even Sunday morning at the game, still feeling under the weather. Ended up adrenaline kicked in and he felt better by game time and ended up playing. There's a lot of things that these guys deal with that are like that. See if we can't boost his immune system for next season."
And in this video from CSNBayArea.com, Harbaugh discusses how important preparation is when playing a team as talented as the Giants:
San Francisco 49ers wide out Michael Crabtree is ready to go to work this Sunday against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park, taking some time to discuss the team's blue collar attitude as well as his thoughts on some of the Giants secondary at a Friday press conference at team headquarter's in Santa Clara.
Did first playoff game go the way you expected it to?
"Yeah, it went how I expected, we won. I expected to win and to come out with the W."
Can you talk about the blue collar mentality of this team and how it's allowed you guys to be so successful?
"It's helped us. It's really helped us focus on the team. Anything to make the team better, everybody is doing - blocking, catching the ball, trying YAC, being a decoy. However you want to call it. We've just been doing our job."
What are your impressions of [Giants CB] Corey Webster as a player? What kind of problems does he give you on coverage?
"He's a good guy, great athlete. Their cornerbacks, I've seen them both running around, swarming around, trying to knock the ball out. Trying to do different things trying to get in your head. Like I said, when it comes to Sunday, it's just me against you. I'll do my best and I hope you do your best. We'll fight it out."
Do you think you have a big responsibility in this game on your shoulders?
"Every game. My responsibility is big every game because I'm a receiver. There's a lot on my shoulders to just go out and play. That's all I can tell you."
And in this video from CSNBayArea.com, Crabtree discusses his personal numbers compared to the team's success:
King Crab will be on full display this Sunday at the Stick, the question will be whether or not the Giants secondary will be ready for him.
The San Francisco 49ers are eagerly awaiting their first NFC Championship Game in decades and just about every aspect of this game has been covered by now. With kickoff less than 48 hours away, quarterback Alex Smith met with the media on Friday and discussed a wide range of topics.
Alex, what can you do to prepare, or what should you do to prepare for wet conditions? If it's muddy, soggy, wet.
"Obviously, mentally get ready for it, but physically the nice thing is we got some weather yesterday. It was pretty dry today, but yesterday got some rain and you get a little practice with the wet-ball drill, handling wet balls. For the person who touches the ball every single play, handing it off and throwing. So, it's good practice."
Do you have some experience with some of that, some games you remember?
"Yeah, oh for sure. Obviously a lot of bad weather games in college and then through my career here. The one that stands out the most is that Seattle game. It dumped up there and ended up delaying the game because it rained so much."
Sometimes a quarterback is only as good as his offensive line. How much faith do you have in those guys in front of you, especially with the challenge that they have on Sunday?
"I've got a ton of faith in those guys. They've done it all year. We've faced these guys already and they did a great job that first game. They've got a lot on their plate. I think they understand that. I don't think there's a team that presents this kind of challenge. To have this many guys that can all rush the passer, I can't remember playing a team that had this many guys that can get after the quarterback. So, feel good about it though. It's going to be a challenge. Those guys have a lot on their plate and it's not just them, it's all of us, got to be a part of it, be a part of protection."
Such a big game. What are your nerves like? And how relaxed have you been just the last couple of days?
"I think all the guys feel better this week even more than last week. The bye week and the first playoff game maybe a little more anxiety there than maybe this week. I feel like this week, obviously guys know the stakes are high, but a little more back in the routine of things."
The Giants definitely have the edge in terms of experience in these big playoff games with the franchise just a few years away from their Super Bowl championship over the Patriots. As for the weather conditions, it is safe to say both teams will be prepared for wet conditions and the side that adjusts the best will probably come out ahead on Sunday.
For more on the 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation.
The 49ers released their final injury report for the week and have several notables included therein. The team has listed six players as officially questionable - Terell Brown, Ted Ginn, Dashon Goldson, Jonathan Goodwin, Delanie Walker, and Patrick Willis. All these players were limited in practice on Friday save for Ted Ginn, who sat out with a knee injury.
Below are the reports for each team as we head into a big weekend.
Questionable - CB Tarell Brown (thigh), WR Ted Ginn (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), C Jonathan Goodwin (calf), TE Delanie Walker (jaw), LB Patrick Willis (knee)
Limited in practice on Friday - CB Tarell Brown (thigh), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), C Jonathan Goodwin (calf), TE Delanie Walker (jaw), LB Patrick Willis (knee)
Did not practice on Friday - WR Ted Ginn (knee)
Questionable - TE Jake Ballard (knee)
Probable - C David Baas (illness), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), LB Mark Herzlich (ankle), QB Eli Manning (illness), WR Hakeem Nicks (ankle), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle, knee), CB Corey Webster (hamstring)
Ed Valentine of the Giants blog Big Blue View shared parts of Eli Manning's press conference from Friday afternoon and Manning had some interesting things to say, addressing the matchup with the 49ers, his connection with his receivers, and his consistency as a quarterback.
Give it a read.
Q: How is the challenge different with a team like this compared to a team like the Jets? Things are simpler for the 49ers.
A: Probably so, but they're a good team. That's all. When you have good players, you have a good scheme and guys do their job correctly, are in the right spots and play fast you don't have to do a whole lot to be successful. Obviously they've proven that. They do a good job of stopping the run. They do a good job of getting turnovers, getting sacks. They make a lot of big plays on defense. Their offense builds off that, off short field position and scoring points. From an offensive standpoint we have to be very sound. Everybody's mechanics have to be perfect. We can't afford to make mistakes. That's what you see with their defense - a mistake on offense turned into a turnover for them, into a big play for them. So you have to eliminate their big plays on defense.
Q: Does Hakeem Nicks rolling his ankle set off an alarm?
A: No. Hakeem is going to be fine. He'll be ready to go.
Q: Is being consistent part of your personality? Chris Snee said you haven't changed since you first got here.
A: I don't think you're supposed to change. The reason that I had success, whether in high school or college, and had some success here in the NFL is you don't change your personality. You don't change whether you're having success or having tough times. You try to work hard, stay confident, support your teammates, be a good teammate and play the game the way it should be played. We have a lot of fun, obviously Chris Snee [and I] have been here a long time, came in the same year, were roommates on the road my rookie year for a little bit - both were pretty quiet people at first. Both of us probably talk a little bit more now than we did that first year - to each other and to our teammates. It's been a fun run and the objective is not to change, maybe get more comfortable, understanding your offense and your role as a teammate and as a guy who's been around a few more years, but you try to never change your personality.
The New York Giants have a few injury concerns as they head into the weekend and their huge matchup with the 49ers at Candlestick Park. Three key players in particular have attached question marks, center David Baas, tight end Jake Ballard, and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Baas is out with flu-like symptoms, Ballard with a knee issue, and Nicks with an ankle injury.
Paul Gutierrez of CSN Sportsnet reports:
Officially, Ballard was listed as "questionable" after undergoing an undisclosed procedure on a knee that coach Tom Coughlin told reporters was not surgical.
Perhaps more troubling for New York was the fact that wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was added to the report after rolling his ankle while running an in cut on a route.
The team listed Nicks as limited but he's officially probable for Sunday.
So, just how serious is Nicks' injury?
"Rolled it a little bit," Nicks said, who added that he's been dealing with a tricky ankle for years, and rolls it twice a season. "Same one. Same one I rolled earlier in the season. Same one I always roll."
Looks like it may slow him a touch, but will likely not keep him out of the game.
After breaking his jaw back on Christmas Eve against the Seattle Seahawks,, San Francisco 49ers tight end Delanie Walker is chomping at the bit (no pun intended) to get back out on the field with his teammates against the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game this Sunday.
Walker took some time with the media in the locker room on Thursday, discussing the likelihood of his playing this week, the probability of re-fracturing his jaw, and how he's been staying prepared and in shape with a non-performance injury like his.
Delanie recovered very quickly from this injury, showing his grit and determination to get back and help out his team. With Vernon Davis having the big day that he had against the Saints, coupled with the return of the dangerous Walker, the boys in Blue could have some TE nightmares comes Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, as well as many of his other teammates, haven't had much experience with a playoff media circus before an NFC Championship game. But don't worry, it's not affecting him or his practice routine at all.
Rogers was all smiles when talking in front of his locker room after practice on Thursday, speaking about what it's been like this week, what (if anything) has been different in team practices, and some of the keys of the game for him against the New York Giants.
Rogers has seen the Giants a lot in his career after spending his first six years with the Washington Redskins. He also had one hell of a game against them in week 10 this season, recording six tackles and two interceptions on the day.
Much has been said about the wide receivers of the New York Giants and the test they present to the San Francisco 49ers, especially when healthy as they are now. It's easily the most important matchup for the Giants, and it's up there for the 49ers. It's true the San Francisco secondary is vastly better than most figured it would be, but there are still week points.
The 49ers rely on a hard-hitting group of safeties to keep offenses honest, and for the most part, it works. But Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham are the group of receivers that can really make the 49ers work harder than ever to establish their gameplan. What's worse is that the 49ers' corners also didn't perform too well against the Giants in the first outing. Sure, Carlos Rogers was and is amazing this year (one of the best corners in the league, actualy), but there are definite weak spots.
Chris Culliver is potentially one of those weak spots. He's had a solid year after being drafted out of the third round, especially when some had never even heard of him. One good thing Culliver has done this season is step up. He took on Calvin Johnson when the 49ers played the Detroit Lions, and he's done well against some of the top receivers in the league.
But against some of the lesser-known guys, Culliver has been beat. He's been beat like any rookie gets beat. He has a tendency to bite on curl routes, and that brings up some of the biggest issues that almost cost the 49ers against the Saints. Culliver would miss a tackle near the sideline, and then you just have the safeties, who are going for that one big hit. If they don't make it, then that's a touchdown all day.
Needless to say, Culliver needs to be on his game on Sunday. Manningham abused him in the first meeting, but then again, Culliver could be out for blood because of it.
San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith took some time to speak to the media at the team's headquarters in Santa Clara on Thursday, discussing the upcoming battle with the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game on Sunday at Candlestick Park.
Smith reflected on how the defense has progressed this season, making sure to take things week-by-week:
Can you talk about how far this defense has come, going back to training camp?
"I think the main thing is we've grown every week. I think our ability to create turnovers and get the turnover has been the keys to our success. Like [S] Donte's [Whitner] hit on the goal line set the tone, set the tempo for what we were going to do that day and took points off the board. As long as we have some back-end guys flying around, hitting people like that, linebackers, d-line, we stand a pretty good chance at winning the game. To me, it's all about turnover ratio and taking points off the board."
In regards to the Giants, Smith spoke about the familiarity that these two teams have after their week 10 matchup:
How much does it matter that you guys beat them before?
"I think with both teams there is a little level of - you're familiar with them. That's the main thing. I think both teams are not going to change up how they attacked each other. They are a little bit of the philosophy of, ‘We just have to block a little bit better but still run the same things.' We're the same way. We're not going to change what we do. We just have to tighten up what we did in the game. We had some breakdowns in our defense. I think if we can correct those and be better prepared than what they are, we have a good chance to win the game."
Does it become increasingly difficult for them to disguise what they're doing on offense?
"I think you have a whole season on tape, but so do we. They know what we're going to do. We know what they're going to do. It's just a matter of who executes the best. There could be a few trick plays, but I think it's just going to be an old who's better. I don't see them changing up their game plan much."
As to how their are playing coming into this Sunday, Smith was very respectful of the danger presented in the Giants:
What are your impressions for how the Giants generally were playing then and playing now?
"Offensively, I can only speak for how they're doing offensively, getting [RB Ahmad] Bradshaw back has been huge for them. [QB] Eli [Manning], the way he's just progressed with those receivers and getting on the same page and making the throws. His understanding of the pocket, that's another thing that I thought Brees was really good at. Eli's just as good if not better. He recognizes where to step up and how to avoid the pass rush and extend the play. The receivers are on the same page so that if he's in trouble, they'll turn into this route or sit down in this protection. So, they've done a good job."
It's going to a be a dogfight come Sunday at the 'Stick, and I have a feeling Justin Smith will be in the middle of it.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh is doing everything in his power to have his San Francisco 49ers ready for their showdown with the New York Giants this Sunday in the NFC Championship game. The boisterous Harbaugh discussed a wide range of topics as he met with the media on Thursday afternoon. Here were a few of the highlights.
If you had to identify your team in a word or two, what comes to mind for you? Secondly, what has K David Akers meant to this team? What kind of year has he had?
"In a word or two? Define the team? I'll use six: The Team, The Team, The Team. With this team, that's not just a mantra, that's who they are. David Akers really could be our most valuable player. Maybe our most talented player. Really going along with who we are, [DT] Justin Smith can't do David Akers' job. David can't do Frank Gore's job or [QB] Alex Smith's job or [DT] Ray McDonald's job or [S] Donte Whitner's job. It's that kind of group that it's really who they are. They're a team. They all understand what they had to do. Specifically David Akers, he's probably the most talented guy at what he does, not only in the league this year, but it may shake out that he's the best of all time.
"Talk about the offensive line. Alex's development has been credited far and wide. What have you seen from the day of the start with the offensive line to where they are now?
"They've gotten better and better. I think that's a group that really has taken to heart being better today than they were yesterday and being better tomorrow than they are today. It's helped that they've all played together. They've all stayed healthy. They've all played 17 games. It's a pretty expansive question, what you're asking. Let's go back to day one and detail out every way that they've performed. They're 14-3. That's how they've performed. That's the kind of offensive line that they've been. They've been a 14-3 type of offensive line.
"Are you taking any special precautions because of the weather?
"Interesting you'd ask that. I know I was standing on my balcony today at about 6:20, 6:30 that area. Looked out and saw a very red sky. That means that ‘red sky at night, sailors' delight. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.' I anticipate that we'll have some precipitation today. Some weather. That'll be a great thing for us. Admiral Bull Halsey once said, ‘If you're going to fight in the North Atlantic, then you've got to prepare in the North Atlantic.' They're anticipating some rain on Sunday. We won't know until Sunday morning when we can check the sky. Excited that we may get some rain today at practice. Might help us to prepare for the ball game on Sunday."
In other news, Jim Harbaugh still gives the best press conferences of any coach in the NFL and it sounds like the 49ers will be ready on Sunday afternoon. As of Thursday night, there is a 40% chance of rain showers across the Bay Area.
For more, head on over to Niners Nation.
The 49ers and Giants are meeting up in Sunday's NFC Championship Game in a matchup that could feature messy conditions. The current forecast calls for showers and 10 mph winds, but the system coming through the Bay Area could get worse before then.
The potentially nasty conditions have lowered the over/under from 45 points to 42 points. The two teams are next expected to put a ton of points on the board and the weather only lessens that chance. If there is a continuous rain on Sunday, there are a couple of possibilities to consider. On the one hand, it could slow things down across the board with players slopping around in the mud trying to maintain their footing. On the other hand, if the pass rush is slowed in the mud and reactive secondaries are struggling to adjust in the mud, could we see the passing games actually pick up a bit?
The chance of precipitation has been moving up and down all week long. It is currently sitting around 40% but given how the Bay Area can be, it could change drastically between now and Sunday. If there is inclement weather, it could make for an interesting battle on a muddy field.
For more on the 49ers and the 2012 NFC Championship Game, head over to Niners Nation.
The San Francisco 49ers know they have a big test coming this weekend against the New York Giants, and while the team was able to come away with a regular season victory in week 10, they will take nothing for granted in the NFC Championship Game. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman recently addressed the media and discussed a various range of topics.
Typically when you play a team twice, how many plays in the game plan stay the same?
"Oh geez. You know with us, you never can tell. That's very specific to the opponent. Certainly plays that didn't work, you probably aren't going to see again. Or you might. If there was a simple reason that you can fix, ‘Hey, this play would be great if we only did this,' you might see it. But, then again, you might just throw it in the trash.
"How would you evaluate [WR Michael] Crabtree's season so far? Is he your number one receiver?
"He is. I think Michael's doing a great job. There's probably a couple of plays in that last game that he'd like to have back, but there's stacks of them that we're very thankful he made. He saved Christmas in Seattle. He competes hard. Michael is doing a great job. Expect big things out of him.
"As we sit here on Thursday, do you formulate a plan of what will work and what wouldn't work if the conditions are bad and the field is sloppy?
"I think a little bit. You try to play the game in your head all week and when you have bad weather, you just picture that field all mudded up. You start going through contingencies in your mind. There's no doubt, you have to."
Who gets the advantage in poor conditions?
"I think the receivers probably have an advantage on the defensive backs because they know where they're going and the defensive backs have to react. So, if the footing is poor, the advantage is for the offense. On the same token, though, running backs can't hit a whole or can't make a cut that they usually would, so advantage defense. I think it works both ways."
The reoccurring theme this week seems to be whichever team adjusts to the rainy conditions the best will have a big advantage on Sunday. Michael Crabtree also needs to step up this week; the Giants (before last week, anyway) have typically struggled against the passing game on defense. Crabtree has the ability to be a dynamic force along with Vernon Davis.
The San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants are eagerly awaiting the start of the NFC Championship Game, which will be played on Sunday afternoon in the rainy Bay Area. While both teams are expected to have most of their starters available to play, there were a few notable absences from practice on Thursday. Here is the full injury report:
Limited Participation: S Dashon Goldson (ankle), TE Delanie Walker (jaw)
Did Not Participate In Practice: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot)
Full Participation: QB Eli Manning (illness)
The news of Willis not practicing was to be expected for the most part. The star linebacker has been bothered by a sore knee for the last few months and was simply sitting out to get another day of rest. As for the Giants, Bradshaw has continually managed to miss practices and still produce on Sundays, and you should fully expect him to play this weekend. Eli Manning is also back to complete health after battling a flu bug the last few days.
The Giants and 49ers have exchanged words throughout the week leading up to the NFC Championship game, with S Antrel Rolle barking loudest from New York. The banter has added another wrinkle to what many are viewing as the renewal game of one of the league's best traditional rivalries.
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated has offered up his preview of the game, and it's a compelling read that dissects three angles that will play a role in Sunday's outcome. Burke highlights the pass rush of both teams, but notes that the Niners have struggled to protect their own quarterback more than the Giants have. He also addresses how the Giants may attempt to cover TE Vernon Davis, as well as the impact Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw will have on the game.
With kickoff now less than 72 hours away, each team is entering the final stages of game preparation, and Sunday has the makings of a physical, exciting clash by the Bay.
San Francisco 49ers TE Delanie Walker was cleared for practice on Wednesday, and indications are that he'll be ready to play on Sunday as the Niners host the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants.
Walker suffered a fractured jaw the night before Christmas against the Seattle Seahawks, and has been sidelined since. He recently spoke with Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, and talked about the recovery process and where he stands now.
Amongst the highlights of the interview, Walker disclosed that the wires that had been put in his mouth to assist the healing process have been removed, and that he wants to experience some contact in practice before the game, to reassure himself that he is ready to go.
After Tweeting earlier in the week that he expects to play, Walker told Maiocco that that decision will ultimately be made by the team doctors and coaches.
Given the stakes of the game and his participation in practice, count on Walker to be in uniform come Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio took some time at the podium Thursday afternoon at team headquarters in Santa Clara, speaking about what lessons he can bring into Sunday's NFC Championship from their meeting with the New York Giants back in week 10.
Giants QB Eli Manning got some yards, obviously, against you in the first game, but you won. What things did you like about what you did in that game?
"That we won. We didn't really play our best that game, but we played tough, hung in there. It was a hard fought game, came down to the end there as you know. They moved it on us some during the game at times. They're a very formidable opponent as we found out the first time."
As usual with the Niners this year, nothing specific will be spoken of during pressers, but Fangio would shine a little light on Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks:
What have you seen that Giants WR Hakeem Nicks in the first two games has done very well, Giants WR Victor Cruz a little bit quieter, but what have you seen out of the first two games from them that has allowed Hakeem to break free?
"Well, he's made some huge plays in their passing game. He's caught some deep balls. He's caught some short balls and turned them into long touchdown runs. He's the guy that you've got to do a good job of tackling when he does catch the ball because he has the ability to turn a short to intermediate catch into a long one as he's done here lately against both the Falcons and the Packers. So, they've got three great receivers in him, Cruz, and [Giants WR Mario] Manningham. They're a formidable group and it's hard to focus your attention on one guy because they've got three good receivers."
The 49ers secondary will have quite a test with the trio of New York playmakers, but may be a bit slowed with some soggy conditions. Fangio talked about what sort of things the team needs to do to prepare for a potentially sloppy Candlestick field:
You touched on the field conditions. I'm wondering what your process is. Will you go out a couple of hours before the game and look at the field and then make those decisions about the shoes? And how does that affect the pass rush too?
"It'll obviously be important for the players to have the correct shoes on, the one they feel most comfortable with, depending upon the exact condition of the field. And the players sometimes fight that. Obviously when it gets wet you need the longer cleats and a lot of the players don't like that because they feel it slows them down a little bit. So, there's that fine line between traction and slowing you down. So, it's a big decision that each and every player's going to have to make individually. And again, as far as it affects me and play calling, it'll just be what I see out there as far as what the effects of the field actually are."
As the San Francisco 49ers prepare for the NFC Championship meeting with the New York Giants this weekend, head coach Jim Harbaugh talked a bit about the team's preparation heading into the game as well as a few of his players as well:
How much have you looked at the weather reports for this weekend?
"Been looking at it. Chance of rain."
Does that change anything or does that make any extra points of emphasis for you this week in practice?
"Yeah, it's worth following and looking at. There's a possibility of rain tomorrow, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Wouldn't mind getting some work in those kind of conditions if it does play out that way."
Harbaugh might get his wish, as reports continue to show rain in the forecast this week.
Coach was asked about how he feels about Michael Crabtree this year, which he had an interesting answer for:
You may not be into the labeling of #1 receiver, #2 receiver, but is WR Michael Crabtree in your mind of that level, a #1 type receiver? What kind of year do you think he's had?
"Michael's had a 14-3 year as a receiver. All of our receivers have had that kind of a year, in terms of executing their job. I would say that about our offense, about our defense, about our special teams. I'd say the same thing about the New York Giants receivers. They've had a Super Bowl contender year. Everybody's good at this point. Both teams are good."
I like the way he described it, as a '14-3 year,' not trying to specifically look at numbers or games he did well in. He's part of the team, and will be judged as such. Coach was also quick to mention the true nature of Vernon Davis when asked:
TE Vernon Davis clearly wears his emotions on his sleeve. He gave the team a speech during halftime last Saturday. How has his leadership role evolved with this team?
"There are some situations where he does wear his emotions on his sleeve and lets those out, like all the ball players do. It's a game that's played and coached by emotional people. He's not like that all the time. His leadership has been through actions. It's been through support of other teammates. It's been through his willingness to contribute to the football team in ways that don't show up on the stats sheet. All those things are noticed by everybody. Everybody's antenna perceives that Vernon is a guy that's about us and not about himself."
As for the Giants, Harbaugh knows his team is in for a fight this weekend:
When you look at the game tape from when you played the Giants earlier this season, what is that that you see in that Giants team, how they were playing then and how they are playing now?
"How they were playing then and how they are playing now, they were playing really good at that time and they're playing really good now. I think they're a healthier team than when we played them. This is a Super Bowl contending team. That's who they are, offensively, defensively, special teams. Class, class team that also is a cruel team. They don't give you things. They don't let you have what you want. They don't make mistakes and turn the ball over to you. They're the opposite of that. They're an opportunistic football team, they're a hard-working football team, really at every position group. They are where they are because of all those things."
It's been quite the interesting season for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. From possibly leaving as a free agent to leading the Niners to the NFC Championship game against the New York Giants, it's been quite the spectrum for the former No. 1 pick.
Alex took some time to discuss how this season has panned out, all the way from lockout practices at San Jose State to the podium he stood at Wednesday afternoon.
Alex, with the season you've had, how much of a desire is there to say, I told you so?
"I think if we win this game and go to the Super Bowl it will say it in itself. I'm not thinking about that right now. I really feel like winning games as a quarterback this time of year speaks for itself. That's how you do your talking. So, just focused on this game, preparing myself all week."
Alex is to classy to do something like that. Come on now.
Alex, for you and a lot of guys, this journey kind of began with those workouts way back at San Jose State. Looking back, what do you think was accomplished there and what carried over into the season? What had an impact?
"Tough to say. We were there all offseason, obviously working out and conditioning and running and doing that. But as far as coming together and doing the little camps and learning the playbook, really it was the ABC's of the playbook, the fundamentals. Just kind of a small foundation, so that when camp did start, when the lockout finally ended, there was a little bit of familiarity there with the guys on kind of the language we'd be speaking, the verbiage, what some things meant. So, it was like the first coat of paint I guess, the primer, I don't know whatever you want to call it. Just kind of the first taste of it and then obviously the bulk of it came in camp and during the season."
Was there a chemistry built there? Was there a team-bonding effect?
"Oh for sure. Anytime I think you're doing something like that, especially without the coaches' influence, when you're just doing it on your own. Guys were flying in from all over the country to be a part of it. Spending time with each other, no question I think that was kind of an unspoken gain from that."
Another important team-bonding factor was the team's time in Youngstown, OH during their bye week between East Coast games, something no other NFL team experienced anything similar to this season.
Ales was also asked about whether or not he has a 'chip on his shoulder:'
You want your play to speak for yourself, but is it fair to say that you personally are playing with a chip on your shoulder and there's some redemption just in how this season has gone?
"I don't know. I guess I kind of feel like this whole team maybe is playing like that, if you want to call it that. I don't know how many wins we were picked to have at the beginning of the season, it wasn't many. Certainly, I don't know where we were picked to come in the division, all of that. Not a lot of people were in our corner. It was just us here working. It's down to the last four here with the chance to go to the Super Bowl this Sunday. That's how we want it. Obviously there are a few more people around, but I don't think it's changed the mindset in the locker room."
As the San Francisco 49ers prepare for their NFC Championship matchup with the New York Giants, All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis spoke with the media Wednesday, discussing some of his thoughts on the Giants' offense as well as his time at Ole' Miss with Eli Manning.
Watching films on the Giants offense, any comments on which schemes and/or teams have worked best against the Giants offense?
"I don't know. I think they're on a winning streak, so I don't think too much has worked in other teams' favor. But they're going to be the Giants. They're going to run the ball. They're going to throw the ball. They've got three good receivers and I'm sure they're going to try to get the ball in their hands. But like I said, at the end of the day, we've just got to play and we'll see what happens from there."
Some of the offense that have challenged you over the middle with the tight end, are you expecting more of that against the Giants? Are you focusing on that as a defense?
"I'm sure that they'll look at film from the last game and they'll see something that they feel like they can get. It's the National Football League. Each play is a big play. I think they'll try what they will and it's up to us to stop it. It's up to me to do my job and I look forward to the challenge. Players are going to make plays. They're going to break tackles. That's part of the game but that doesn't mean you stop playing the game. It doesn't mean you stop believing in yourself. I still have just as confidence in my ability to cover, to tackle, to play this game than I did before. It doesn't matter to me what they try."
Willis certainly wasn't going to be divulging anything specific to the media folks in Santa Clara on Wednesday, especially when it comes to their preparation. I'm sure the 49ers have been preparing for a lot of the same they did for their regular season matchup at the 'stick, but there always will be some new wrinkles folded in during the playoffs.
Willis also spoke a bit about his time in college with current Giants QB Eli Manning:
How far has Giants QB Eli Manning come since your college days?
"As a freshman, I thought he was the greatest quarterback ever. That was the best season I'd ever had in football. To see the things that he's done, he's won a Super Bowl. That's the biggest accomplishment that we all try to go for, to win that. He's done that. He led his team back to being one game closer to that."
What did you like about him? To say he's the best quarterback you'd seen as a freshman, what were the things he was doing?
The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants are getting ready for a matchup that figures to be hard-slugging and full of intense defensive football. The Niners defense is one of the best in the league, and the Giants defense isn't too far behind. It also features too solid quarterbacks in Alex Smith and Eli Manning, but it figures this contest might be settled the old-fashioned way--a lot of grind-it-out running football.
The 49ers got a huge addition back to their roster when Delanie Walker came back to practice in a limited fashion. The Niners could use him in the offensive game as he provides versatility as a blocker to free up Frank Gore and as an occasional receiver out of the backfield. His presence is crucial for San Francisco to secure victory.
Here's more of the injury report.
49ers Practice Report
Did Not Participate In Practice: WR Ted Ginn (knee), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), C Jonathan Goodwin (calf)
Limited Participation in Practice: TE Delanie Walker (jaw)
Giants Practice Report
Did Not Participate In Practice: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot)
Limited Participation in Practice: LB Mark Herzlich (ankle), QB Eli Manning (illness), DE Justin Tuck (shoulder), DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle, knee), CB Corey Webster (hamstring)
To discuss the 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation. To talk about the Giants, go to Big Blue View.
Davis spoke about his transformation as part of the 49ers, and how former coach Mike Singletary has helped shape him into the player his is today.
Alex just told me that you learned how to become a professional and that's led to you becoming a team leader. When did you decide to embrace that role and how difficult was that path for you?
"It was difficult. It started when Coach Mike Singletary was here. He sent me to the locker room. From that point on, I was...I just kept my head up and just kept going down the straight path because I knew from there, from the talk that we had, I was going the wrong direction. I changed my life around and I became more of a leader, because in the beginning it was all about me and that's not right. You don't want it to be all about you. I find it that, when it's more about the team and you put the team first, you have more success."
What was it that he said to you Vernon that resonated? Can you pin point the one that he said that made you make the change?
"He said to me, I can't remember what he said word for word, but it touched me. It touched me. But I do remember him saying that, ‘Vernon, when you put the team first, then you'll start to take off.' So I did that, I did that. Since then, life has been really good."
From raw talent to playoff winning playmaker, Vernon certainly is a lot different now that when Singletary took over. He also spoke about his role as a leader now, which now including giving speeches. Though Davis wouldn't necessarily call it that:
Last week you gave an emotional speech at halftime. What's going to be your message to the team this week?
"It's weird because I don't prepare messages. They just come from the heart. And at that moment, it was something that I was feeling. I went to the board and I wrote on it, ‘one shot.' One shot because that's all we had. Just to get guys thinking about it. Thinking about what we have here and that's just what it is. It just comes from the heart."
If there is anything questionable about Vernon Davis, it most certainly isn't his heart.
San Francisco 49ers head coach spoke to the media Wednesday as they prepare to face the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game this weekend, noting that tight end Delanie Walker will suit up for practice this week, but stopped short of saying that he will or will not play this week.
Jim Harbaugh says Delanie Walker will return to practice today and they'll make determination later on game, depending on doctors thoughts.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) January 18, 2012
Walker has been dealing with a jaw injury the past few weeks, causing him to miss the divisional playoff matchup with the New Orleans Saints last Saturday. Walker has 19 receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns for San Francisco this season, playing a large part in their offense throughout the season. If he is able to return, he'll prove to be another key weapon the Giants will have to prepare for.
It just wouldn’t be an NFL playoff game without a little trash talk between opponents.
The New York Giants are already stirring it up after hearing San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis ‘prayed’ that the Giants beat the Saints last Sunday to maintain home field advantage. Giants cornerback Antrel Rolle figured he just wanted to play the Giants, a team the Niners already have beaten this season, and was ready with his response:
“They better be careful what they ask for,” Rolle said. “Because their wish has been granted.”
Rolle later went on WFAN in New York, and added a little more:
“I don’t give a damn who we’re playing, man,” Rolle said. “That’s my take. I’ll take any opponent, any given day. That’s my attitude. If someone has a problem with it, oh well. But that’s how I am. That’s how I was raised. I don’t shy away from any opponent. My heart doesn’t pump any Kool-Aid, only blood. I’m ready for whenever, however, whatever, however it gets to me. I’m ready for it.”
Rolle also claimed the Giants ’couldn’t be beat’ on Monday, something that undoubtedly made it back to the Niners locker room I’d assume.
Get your popcorn ready folks, the show’s already begun.
According to the New york Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning did not participate entirely in practice on Wednesday due to an illness, which they hope won’t sideline him any further as he and his team prepare for the San Francisco 49ers this weekend.
Eli Manning was unable to finish practice today due to an “illness”. Giants are hoping it’s only a 24-hour stomach bug. #NYG
— Ralph Vacchiano (@TheBlueScreen) January 18, 2012
At this point in the season, you never want to miss any practice time, especially preparing for a game as important as the NFC championship game. On the other hand, some extra rest for a guy like Manning might do him some good, especially when it’s your third playoff game in a row.
The San Francisco 49ers have been without who many believe to be their best wide receiver since early on in the season, and because of that, any particular matchup this season between them and another team's crop of receivers has given their opponents a clear win. Joshua Morgan is that guy, and without him, the current group is Michael Crabtree, Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr., Brett Swain and Joe Hastings.
They're up against Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham, and listing the rest of the team really isn't necessary at this point. Even with Vernon Davis added, it's hard to pick against the dynamic receiving options the Giants possess. When you think of the Saints, you think of an offense that finds ways to beat you consistently, on the back of quarterback Drew Brees.
And though Eli Manning has played his way into the very elite of quarterbacks this season, you could also say that his level of play is elevated due to the fantastic talents of the guys catching the ball. While the 49ers did their best to get to Brees and bring him down so he can't get the ball to his receivers, Manning will put the ball in the air and trust his guys to snatch it away, whether he's standing in a pocket or flat on his face by the time the ball gets there.
You can't really say the same for Alex Smith and the 49ers. While Smith has taken more shots and Davis has become a reliable target, it's not the kind of situation where Manning just lobs it up for Nicks to make a great catch-and-run for a big touchdown. At least, it's not like that consistently. Since the first time these two teams played, the Giants group of receivers have added highlight after highlight to their resume.
It'll be the biggest test for San Francisco - stopping those receivers. That's one position the Giants are just about indisputably better by a solid margin. But then again, Brees was indisputably better than Alex by a solid margin, wasn't he?
As the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants rush to prepare for their NFC Championship Game on Sunday afternoon, there will be one factor neither team can control: the weather. With the forecast potentially calling for rainy and cold conditions, there has been a lot of debate on which team would benefit most from wet playing conditions.
According to NFC West blogger Matt Sando, the 49ers would play better in slick conditions.
Slick conditions at Candlestick Park should favor the 49ers, in my view.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin keeps emphasizing running the ball and stopping the run. To beat the 49ers, however, I think the Giants will need to succeed through the air. Teams with the highest average gains per quarterback dropback against San Francisco -- Dallas, Philadelphia, Arizona in the second meeting, the Giants and Baltimore -- defeated or nearly defeated the 49ers this season.
Eli Manning and his wide receivers are functioning at a high level. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham each scored touchdowns against the 49ers in Week 10. Both entered the game with injuries that put their availability in question. Nicks has 13 receptions for 280 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs. Manningham and Victor Cruz have combined for 14 receptions and 201 yards.
The field at Candlestick Park tends to get slick anyway, particularly around the perimeter. That's an area Manning likes to target. He finished the regular season with a league-high 2,647 yards passing outside the yard-line numbers, 471 more than runnerup Aaron Rodgers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He threw 20 touchdown passes on these throws, tied with Rodgers for second in the league behind Drew Brees (22).
Picture-perfect conditions in the divisional round made for a faster track. The 49ers and Giants can expect slower, less sure footing in the NFC title game.
Whether you agree with the blogger or not, his prediction makes sense, at least when you think about it logically. Running in the rain on a slick surface is tough enough, not to mention what it's like for a receiver when he tries to haul in a ball with defenders draped all over him. As for the 49ers, they are a team that focuses on establishing the run and using quick routes to move the ball through the air, which typically works well when there are sloppy conditions.
The weather report will definitely be something to keep an eye on. Eli Manning has been known to battle the elements and still come away with a victory, and he is playing at a completely different level right now. Regardless if it's sunny and cloud-free or pouring all day long, the 49ers will have a tough game on their hands this weekend.
Well, it’s looking like it’s shaping up to be a soggy weekend here in the Bay Area, meaning there might finally be some weather playing a factor in San Francisco during this year’s NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants.
Unlike last Saturday’s divisional matchup with the New Orleans Saints, where the two teams appeared to be playing at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego with all the warm sunshine, this Sunday has a strong possibility for rain according to the weather channel, and will have a soggy field regardless with rain in the forecast almost everyday from Wednesday on this week.
Does this forecast really assist the 49ers in any big way? Unlike the Saints, who were basically a dome-or-lose team, the Giants are more adaptable to weather and likely won’t be slowed much by a little rain. Either way, looks like a little football weather is finally in the forecast for Candlestick this season.
Though the stakes are much higher and both teams look much better than they did earlier in the season, the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants can expect plenty of their first matchup to parallel the second on Sunday in the NFC Championship game. Both offenses will likely struggle while both defenses will likely stifle. It's a textbook matchup at its core, and yet, it's so hard to predict what will happen. Things have been happening that most would never have predicted: things like the Giants dominating the Green Bay Packers and Alex Smith orchestrating two 85-yard touchdown drives to out-gun Drew Brees.
If you take variables like that and throw them into the teams' first matchup, and you get something wildly unpredictable. These teams have changed a lot over the course of the season. Let's take a look at three of the keys offensively that has changed for the 49ers.
Alex Smith's confidence should be at an all-time high. Coming into the game against the Giants, people wondered if the 49ers were going to open up the offense against a tough team. There was two conservative games against Cleveland and Washington in which Smith played well but was still unremarkable, and most figured Smith would need a big game against the Giants. He came through when he needed to and, though he didn't have a huge game, he got it done. There's no reason for him to not be confident at this point.
Frank Gore's health isn't a concern at this point. Following the game, I wrote about two players that played poorly and noted that they shouldn't even have played. One of them was Ray McDonald, and the other was Gore. He just did not run well, he fell down, he lacked burst and he didn't look like a feature back by any means. But now, Gore is healthy and he ran very well against the New Orleans Saints. He'll be looking for a big game against New York.
Greg Roman's gameplan has evolved significantly. The team has been a far-cry from the doom scenario that Jim Schwartz painted for Jim Harbaugh during the offseason, but the offense did take awhile to develop. All of the coaches were adamant that they have been picking things up on the fly from the very beginning. Now, it seems like they've finally hit their stride, especially on offense. Even against the Saints, when they struggled with the play-calling, they were able to pull things out that were simply genius, like the Alex Smith scramble.
The New York Giants and the San Fransisco 49ers faced off in Week 10 with the Niners winning 27-20. However the Giants are a different team than they were back then and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is keenly aware of that.
Harbaugh met with reporters Monday to discuss the game and how much different this New York team looks to the one they beat.
Healthier, is the biggest thing. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. Especially the linebacker unit that is playing outstanding. When we faced them, they were really down to one linebacker and two young linebackers and the one the linebacker was playing out of position. Those two linebackers have grown in experience and production. They added [LB Chase] Blackburn who’s playing very well. They got another linebacker back and that has really fortified that group. That group has really played at a high level and much different than the team that we played earlier. The defensive line was strong when we played them and now they’re stronger.
However Harbaugh thinks his team has also made improvements in recent weeks.
"I think we’ve made several. The character of the team, the execution of the team, the way our players play. Players like, again, [DT] Justin Smith, played great in this past game. I don’t think there is a tougher player that I’ve ever been around or known or even a tougher person, put it to that level. I was even talking with [Defensive Coordinator] Vic [Fangio] and [Secondary Coach] Ed Donatell about the same thing. Do you know a tougher guy than Justin Smith? Have you ever been around a player like this? We really couldn’t come up with one. The only guy we could even say maybe that’s tougher than Justin Smith is OJ Brigance, who is with the Ravens. Just the class and toughness that he’s displayed since being diagnosed with ALS, would be the only one that we could come up with."
The matchup is finally set for the NFC Championship Game next Sunday, marking the final round of playoffs before one lucky NFC team will punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers prevailed over the New Orleans Saints on Saturday in a game for the ages at Candlestick Park. One day later, the New York Giants upset the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, giving the 49ers home field advantage in the Championship Game.
The Giants looked great on both sides of the ball on Sunday, but once again this NFC Championship Game looks like it will be a minor repeat of the game against the Saints: a dominant quarterback with a fierce passing game going up against the notoriously staunch defense of the 49ers. In this instance, said quarterback will be New York's Eli Manning, who already has a Super Bowl win under his belt...much like Brees.
Hank Gola of the New York Daily News published an article on Sunday talking up the vaunted 49ers defense and the threat that they will pose to the Giants.
[49ers quarterback Alex] Smith will be facing a much better defense in the Giants but he also has a more complimentary running game. For Manning, he'll see the best defense he's faced since the last time he faced the Niners. With a great pass rush, elite linebackers and a secondary that can cover, the Niners are the most complete defense in the league.
It should be an amazing contest.
49ers fans can only nod in agreement with all of Gola's assessments.
The game should be one of the toughest to predict in the entire postseason, which is really saying something, considering the close games and upsets that we have already seen. One thing is worth noting, however: when these two teams faced off during the regular season, the Niners came away with a 27-20 win. The San Francisco defense has arguably gotten even better since then.
The San Francisco 49ers waited for nine years to get to the playoffs, but they will now play host to two straight postseason games. On Sunday, Candlestick Park will bear witness to the 2012 NFC Championship Game as the New York Giants will come to town, fresh off their upset win over the Green Bay Packers.
The game will start at 3:30 PM PST on Sunday, January 22. The game will be televised nationally on FOX and your announce team for the title game will be Joe Buck on play-by-play, with Troy Aikman as the color analyst and Pam Oliver doing the sideline reporting.
Despite the recent World Series victory by the San Francisco Giants, Sunday's game may just be one of the most anticipated and eagerly-awaited sports games in some time for the Bay Area. It is the last stop before the Super Bowl, so you can bet that the electric atmosphere during last Saturday's game against the New Orleans Saints will just be the beginning. All eyes in Northern California will be on the NFC Championship game.
The San Francisco 49ers and their fans have been waiting a long time for a chance to compete for the NFC Championship and a shot making it to the Super Bowl. On Sunday, they'll finally get that opportunity as they host the New York Giants at Candlestick Park. You can bet that a ticket to the game will be one of the hottest commodities in the Bay Area over the next few days. But how to acquire one, you may ask?
The 49ers sent out a press release on Sunday following the Giants' victory over the Green Bay Packers regarding how ticket sales will work for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. The tickets will go on sale this Wednesday and as should be expected, current season ticket holders will have first dibs at buying them.
The full announcement:
Pre-sales for season ticket holders begins Wednesday, January 18, at 10 a.m. PST.
Three hours later, at 1 p.m. PST, sales will open up to the general public. There will be a limit of four (4) tickets per order and seats will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. As with the NFC Divisional game, tickets will sell out quickly and there is no guarantee of an opportunity to purchase.
All playoff tickets will be sold through Ticketmaster: online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Tickets will NOT be sold directly through the 49ers or at Candlestick Park.
Fans are reminded to beware of counterfeit tickets this week. The only way to guarantee authenticity of tickets is to buy through reputable vendors such as the NFL Ticket Exchange powered by Ticketmaster. Fans are urged to review the tickets or know the source before purchasing from second-hand or non-official sources.
Remember that camping out at the Park won't yield you an opportunity to buy tickets. Something tells me there are going to be an awful lot of people hammering on their "reload" button for the Ticketmaster site come 1:00 PM on Wednesday.
For those who want an early line on the 2012 NFC Championship game, the San Francisco 49ers are your favorites. But not by much.
Depending on where you look, San Francisco is favored by around a field goal or less (with the de facto line being 2.5 points from Pinnacle) in the conference championship game. It makes sense, as Candlestick Park has proven to be a pretty tough place for a road football team to go into and win a playoff game. The crowd was quite boisterous in their victory over the New Orleans Saints, and you can expect a similar environment next Sunday afternoon.
However, it makes sense that the Niners aren't heavy favorites, as they'll be facing a Giants team that's playing excellent football. You can expect a lot of people to hop on the Eli Manning bandwagon after the way they dismantled the Green Bay Packers.
The San Francisco 49ers are going to be hosting the NFC Championship game in Candlestick Park. Doesn't get more exciting than this, does it?
San Francisco will host the New York Giants, who upset the Green Bay Packers 37-20 with a dominant performance on both sides of the football, with Eli Manning exploding for 330 yards and three touchdowns, including some timely third down throws. The Packers played mistake-ridden football, as their receivers dropped pass after pass and the offense coughed up the football three times, and the pass rush and coverage harassed Aaron Rodgers into one of his worst games of the season. The Giants played better, and that's why they're headed back to the NFC Championship Game.
San Francisco can't be happy they avoided Rodgers though, because arguably they're facing the hottest team in the NFL in the Giants. Manning is probably playing the best of all the quarterbacks in the playoffs, and he's already proven earlier this season he can move the ball against San Francisco's vaunted front. The Giants defense will present more of a challenge for Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and the 49ers limited offensive set. It should be a fascinating matchup in San Francisco.
The 49ers victory over the Saints leaves the team dealing with a variety of injuries in advance of Sunday's NFL championship game. We break down the current state of the team as they wait for their opponent to be determined.
We take a look at Sunday's NFC divisional round playoff schedule as the Packers and Giants square off for the right to face the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
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