Today marks the eighth NFC Championship game held at Candlestick Park, the most out of any NFL stadium. Add to the history between the 49ers and Giants in the playoffs and this game has all the makings of a great contest.
The 49ers beat the Giants back in Week 10, but both teams have changed significantly since then. Frank Gore was banged up and held to 0 yards rushing while Bradshaw was out for New York. Both running backs are healthy this time around.
It will be interesting to see how the weather effects the game. They rolled the tarp off about 2 and a half hours before the start of the game so the field should be relatively dry when the game starts. It was pouring this morning, but as of 1:30, the rain has tapered off.
Stay tuned for the inactives and updates throughout the game.
49ers – QB Scott Tolzien, WR Ted Ginn, CB Shawntae Spencer, FB Moran Norris, G Daniel Kilgore, G Mike Person, NT Ian Williams
Giants – WR Ramses Barden, RB Da’Rel Scott, LB Mark Herzlich, C Jim Cordle, DE Justin Trattou, DT Jimmy Kennedy, T James Brewer
Hunter fielded the short kickoff and returned it to the 23. The Giants had one the toss and deferred. The 49ers normally kickoff to start the game. Gore picked up a first down on an improvised play. He caught Smith’s pass and reversed his field to the right side and dove for the sticks. Mike Iupati had his ankle rolled up and was replaced by Rachal. Smith’s third down pass was behind Gore and the 49ers had to punt. The 49ers…as usual…had great coverage on the punt and Spillman brought down Blackmon at the 16.
Eli Manning’s first down pass was well behind Nicks and it didn’t look like it was tipped. Give that one to the weather. After missing his first two passes, Manning threw a strike to Cruz over the middle for a gain of 12 and a first down. On third and long, Manning converted once again, hitting Nicks for a gain of 10 against the coverage of Rogers. Ray McDonald ended the Giants’ success on third down, forcing a fumble by Manning. The 49ers couldn’t recover though, but the Giants lost 13 yards and had to punt. Williams returned it to the 27.
On the second play of the drive, Smith hit Vernon Davis on a go route and Davis outran everyone for a 73-yard touchdown. Davis’ foot was really close to the line and the play was reviewed, but upheld.
49ers 7 – Giants 0
Manning hit Nicks on third down. It was a low pass, but Nicks made a nice catch for the first down. Nicks was shaken up on the play though and got some attention on the sideline. On 3rd and short, Manning’s pass was incomplete for Manningham. The Giants offense stayed on the field on 4th down, but Jacobs was stopped short and the 49ers took over at their own 34.
Hunter tossed the ball to Williams on a reverse on first down. Williams couldn’t handle it, but the 49ers were fortunate to recover after a loss of 10. Smith’s pass on 3rd and 14, was well behind Williams and nearly intercepted along the left sideline. Lee didn’t get a favorable bounce on the punt as it rolled out of bounds around the 30.
Manning’s pass on first down was incomplete for Nicks who was back in. On 2nd down, Jacobs rumbles straight ahead for a gain of 4.
Standout Stat: The Giants possessed the ball for 10:07 of the first quarter, but the big play to Davis stands as the differences.
Highlight Reel: Alex Smith and Vernon Davis are clicking right now and Smith hit the speedy tight end for a 73-yard gain down the right sideline.
Put it in Perspective: While Manning has struggled with deep passes so far, Alex Smith was on target to Davis. The Giants have been very good on 3rd down so far and the 49ers defense must do a better job of getting them off the field. Manning is one of the best on third down though so that will be a stat to watch throughout the game.
Manning hit Cruz who had a step on Rogers. It was thrown short which was fortunate otherwise it may have gone for a touchdown. Cruz picked up 36 on the play. Manning converted on third down once again, finding Cruz over the middle. Bear Pascoe caught Manning’s pass on 2nd down for a 6-yard touchdown.
49ers 7 – Giants 7
Kyle Williams returned the kickoff to the 22. Smith hit Williams on 3rd and 2. The Giants were called for illegal hands to the face, but Williams made the catch anyway. The 49ers took the extra yard on the penalty and got the first down. After taking some shots down the field, the 49ers run the ball up the middle on two consecutive plays for another first down. Davis was called for a personal foul after he tried to break up Anthony Davis and Boley. The 49ers still had a first and 10, but backed up 10 yards. The 49ers gave the ball to Gore for two more carries and the bell cow moved the chains once again. Smith scrambled up the middle, but was stopped short. Harbaugh went for it on 4th and 2…but ended up just trying to draw the Giants offside. Lee came on to punt. Blackmon signaled for the fair catch, but was called for not doing it correctly and the Giants had to back up to their own 19.
The Giants moved the ball effectively to start the drive. Rogers slipped on a pass to Nicks for a first down along the right sideline. Bowman and McDonald dropped Manning on 3rd and 2 to force a punt. The 49ers took over at the 16 with 2:51 remaining in half.
The 49ers appeared content to run out the clock, waiting until the two minute warning and following it up with a Gore run. Smith scrambled on third down and the Giants had to burn two of their timeouts. Lee got off a booming punt and Grant brought down Blackmon at the 36.
Manning hit Cruz over the middle to get to the SF 49. Manning got Crux again against Rogers. Cruz ran a short slant and picked up 11. Cruz mad a circus catch for a gain of 17. It’s all Cruz on this drive as he caught yet another pass down to the 12. Tynes hit a 31-yard field goal.
Giants 10 – 49ers 7
Williams returned the kick and the first half expired.
Standout Stat: This game has come down to who can covert better on third down. The Giants are 5-9 and the 49ers are 0-4.
Highlight Reel: I can’t say there really was one for the 49ers in this quarter. The 49ers had a good drive going, but were set back after the penalty against Davis.
Put it in Perspective: The Giants will get the ball to start the second half and it will be important that the 49ers keep it at a one-score game. They need to do a better job on third downs, both on offense and on defense. Cruz has picked apart the 49ers defense and already has 125 receiving yards.
After a touchback, Bradshaw broke a run out to the right side for a gain of 9 on 1st down, but lost a yard on 2nd down. Manning tried to hit Bradshaw on a screen, but he dropped the pass when he saw the defense closing. That’s a great three and out to start the half.
Smith didn’t have anyone open on first down and was dropped by Pierre-Paul and Tuck for the first sack of the game. The 49ers were aided by an illegal contact penalty which gave the 49ers a first down at the 32. Hunter got the toss and then cut back the opposite way for a gain of 14 and a first down. Smith was flushed from the pocket and tried to hit Walker, but the pass was knocked down. Lee’s punt was downed at the 7.
Guess who on first down? Curz picked up right where he left off with a gain of 6 followed by a gain of 11. On 3rd and 5, the 49ers had good coverage and Manning had to throw it away. Williams had a crease on the punt return, but slipped at the 47.
On 2nd down, the Giants secondary had turned their backs leaving Gore wide open in the flat. Smith hit him for a gain of 24 down to the 28. Smith then hit Davis down the left sideline for a 28-yard score. The ball was perfectly thrown in between the corner and the safety.
49ers 14 – Giants 10
Nicks gained 15 yards on 1st down on a crossing route over the middle. Ray McDonald got to Manning once again (2.5 today) and forced the punt.
Smith dumped the ball off to Gore on 3rd down, but he couldn’t pick up the first and the 49ers go three and out. Bowman dropped Blackmon asat the 27 as the 49ers had excellent coverage yet again.
On 3rd down, Goldson and Brown collided as they were going for the interception. They both had a shot at it and Brown stayed down after taking a brutal hit. Brown got back up and was helped to the sideline. It’s a great sign that he didn’t need the cart. Williams fair caught the punt at the 12.
Gore had a nice run up the middle to start the drive, picking up 11. Walker made his first catch since coming back from a broken jaw, gaining 77. Canty was called for a personal foul, tacking on 15 yards.
Standout Stat: Vernon Davis has two catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Highlight Reel: Alex Smith is at his best when he looks for Davis. His throw was right in between the safety and corner for a 28-yard score.
Put it in Perspective: The 49ers enter the fourth quarter with a 4-point lead…15 minutes away from a ticket to the Super Bowl. The Giants are an explosive team and could certainly come back. The 49ers need to be able to pound the ball on the ground and control the ball with an efficient passing game.
Dixon was stopped for no gain on 3rd and 1. Lee’s punt hung up in the air and was fair caught at the 20.
Rogers came on a blitz, but read the screen to Bradshaw and dragged him down from behind for no gain. Aldon Smith dropped Manning on 2nd down for a loss of 5. Aldon got pressure again on third down as the 49ers rushed just three. Manning looked like he didn’t want to get hit again and quickly threw it away. Williams let the ball bounce in front of him and was downed at the 29. The Giants challenged that Williams touched the ball. The call was reversed and the Giants took over at the 29. The 49ers blitzed on third down, but it was picked up and Manning hit Nicks for a gain of 14. The Giants were backed up after a holding penalty against Baas. On 3rd and 15, Manning hit Manningham for a 17-yard touchdown.
Giants 17 – 49ers 14
That’s it for the blog as we have to run down to the field. Follow @49ers on Twitter for updates.
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