Something For Everyone
The world remembers the 2012 NFC Championship game, the last time the Giants and 49ers met. On a rain-soaked San Francisco football field, Kyle Williams fumbled an overtime punt return. The Giants scooped it up, and gut-punched the 49ers three times with Ahmad Bradshaw before kicking the game-winning field goal that would send them on to the second Super Bowl win of Eli Manning's career.
The Giants benefiting from the mistakes of others is nothing new. Jacksonville fired Tom Coughlin so that he could become one of greatest coaches in Big Blue's history. The Chargers drafted Eli Manning after being warned not to, and little brother went to New York. San Francisco has sent the Giants to the Super Bowl, but unlike so many others, it did not condemn them to obscurity. Quite the opposite.
Alex Smith finally shook the bust label. Jim Harbaugh gave us all reason to put away the lithium, and the NFC West once again had a viable competitor with all the parts needed for a sustained run as one of the NFL's best. On the other side of the country, the sad-eyed younger brother was crowned king. The NFL had its very own landscape-altering earthquake. The NFC now turns on an east-west axis.
The 49ers borrowed a page out of the Giants' regular season playbook three weeks ago, turning in an underwhelming regular season performance in a loss to the Vikings. After that game, several artists in The Tenderloin swear they saw Harbaugh wandering around wearing an adult diaper, cursing at imaginary players. It was never confirmed. In two games since then, the 49ers whipped the Jets and the Bills by a combined score of 79-3.
New York's struggles have been limited to the teams in their own division, losing to Dallas and Philadelphia. Anonymous players keep popping up to fill the voids left by injured stars. Eli Manning is the third most talked about quarterback in the nation's largest media market. Normalcy.
Fans of all stripes will find something to enjoy about this game. Bruising defenses? Definitely. Perfect passes and improbable catches? That, too. Coaches frothing at the mouth? Uh huh.
Questions linger in the Giants' secondary. Harbaugh has vowed to chew off the hands of any player on his team who turns over the ball. The 7-point spread is way too big, but the Niners should still come out on top in this one, 24-21.
Cast of Characters
Eli Manning, 12 year-old
He still looks and acts like 12 year-old thrown into the NFL by mistake, and that makes it all the more hilarious when he (somehow) dominates with the game on the line. No amount of Super Bowl wins will make us take Eli seriously. He'll be doing this until he's 40, and it will never get old.
Tom Coughlin, Angry Grandpa
Like Bill Belichick mixed with Judge Smails. A great coach and surefire Hall of Famer at this point, but so much more fun when he's losing and grumpy. Whenever he retires, let's all remember this sequence forever.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Alien
The Giants defense may be an ongoing adventure each week, but JPP is pretty much a constant nightmare. The combination of length, size, and speed makes him a certified circus freak of a human being, and someone we should all fear and admire in equal measure.
Vernon Davis, Alien
Everything above fits here if you substitute "49ers offense" for "Giants defense." Both these guys are completely unfair.
Alex Smith, Great Personality
Yes, the "game manager" tag is like saying a girl has a great personality. HOWEVER, ask fans of Tony Romo and Jay Cutler how they feel about dating a crazy hot girl, and soon enough you will see that all things considered, a great personality can sometimes be a much better deal.
49ers fans, Terrible People
Let's see ... A guy got shot at a preseason game last year, visiting Saints fans were verbally and physically harassed, and police had to dispatch undercover cops to pose as Giants fans for last year's NFC title game. So ... Yep! Niners fans sure do sound like the Mexican soccer fans of the NFL.
San Francisco is weird. Beautiful? Yes, but beneath the bright sunshine it's perpetually fifty degrees. Scenic? Insanely so, but is also perched on top of a fault line capable of leveling the city in a matter of seconds. Wealthy? One can gawk at some of the most expensive real estate in America while also fighting off our nation's most aggressive hobos in hand-to-hand street combat.
It is a city of contrasts, something a brief survey of SFGate.com's headlines illustrates in a hurry:
--"When Sesame Street goes slutty"
--"Cargo bikes grow in popularity"
--"Protesters briefly occupy SF building"
--"UC vets examine snoutless hero dog"
Alex Smith, the 49ers own snoutless hero dog of a quarterback, plays with the rest of the team in Candlestick Park, the ancient home of the 49ers they will abandon for new digs in Santa Clara in 2014. Microbrews and stellar seafood are culinary specialties at the concession stand, while tossing out fans for public drunkenness is security's power move. 110 people were ejected the last time these two teams played in the NFL Championship Game. Home of the summer of love my ass.
Ask the Locals: Giants
What should Giants fans watch for this week?
This is really a 'What Giants fans don't want to watch.' We don't want any Brandon Jacobs' celebrations. If the big man gets to play (he hasn't yet this year), we want to end chicken wing celebrations or firing the ball off the 30-second clock, no histrionics after trucking somebody like, oh, Antrel Rolle. Just stay on the sidelines and let Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter handle their business, big fella.
Can the Giants manage not to get fooled by a David Akers' onside kick?
Two seasons in a row (once in a game with the Eagles I shudder to think about and once with the 49ers), Akers has fooled the Giants with surprise onside kicks. Both times his team recovered. Memo to the Giants' kick return unit. DO NOT TURN AND RUN UNTIL YOU SEE THE BALL IN THE AIR!
Ask the Locals: 49ers
Will Jim Harbaugh's head explode during the game?
My money remains on coach Harbaugh's head exploding after the game when he gets the ultimate dumb question from a member of the media. There are times where the media obligations seem to physically pain Jim Harbaugh. At the same time, had the replacement refs lasted another week, there was probably a better than even chance that he was going to take a swing at one, much like he was rumored to have done in a confrontation with Jim Kelly in the announcer's box. Jim Harbaugh tries to keep the media at bay, and yet he is the proverbial "glass case of emotions" that makes him oh so interesting.
Who actually cares about this game more?
There has been some chatter in the media by 49ers players about how there is some unfinished business and some measure of revenge out there for the 49ers to seek. The 49ers came up on the short end of the stick in the 2012 NFC Championship Game and that has been on the mind of everybody since then. The team entered this season on a mission and seems to be using that game as motivation. Even though this will mark the third meeting in 13 months between the two teams, it remains to be seen if it is enough of a two-sided rivalry. The 49ers did win the regular season matchup last year, but no matter what they say, the Giants can continue to call "scoreboard" with their NFC title game and Super Bowl victories. The Giants likely care about this game in terms of building some momentum, but not quite as much from the broader rivalry and historical perspective as the 49ers.
1. Brandon Jacobs, 49ers RB
Bruised ego. Jacobs has been dealing with a sore knee this season. Either way, this is what the end of an NFL running back's career looks like.
2. Alex Smith, 49ers QB
Smith offered his opinion of the Bills defense last week with three touchdowns and 303 yards. He now has a sprained middle finger on his throwing hand.
3. Martellus Bennett, Giants TE
What's the matter with Bennett's knee? Simple, he "messed some shit up" when he hyperextended it against the Browns.With the possible exception of the Steelers, no team talks about injuries more than the Giants, but manages to play through them anyway.
4. Hakeem Nicks, Giants WR
The guy who used to be the Giants' top receiver racked up 199 yards in Week 2, and then disappeared with foot and knee problems. Eager fantasy footballers have had Nicks close to playing every week since, only to be let down by picking the wrong no-name Giants receiver to explode for 100 yards. He's so totally close this week.
Place Your Bets: Bradshaw Takes America
Statgasm: Sufficiently Caffeinated
In 140-character Conclusion...
122 games in NFL history with 300+ rush yds & 2,316 with 300+ pass yds, but 49ers today are 1st team with 300 of BOTH.
How I roll those fans that no me no ill never disrespect nyg my closes friends are over there so curtain people say what they want on twitt
49ers by 6 is TOO HIGH. i expect closer game.
Best no-comment ever? I asked Michael Crabtree: "Got a second?" His reply: "I've got lemonade" as he stares into his cup on way to lounge
The Russell Wilson bandwagon's gas tank is flashing "E" right now.