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.