Eli Manning and the New York Giants are set to return to Candlestick Park on Sunday to reprise the longstanding rivalry between Big Blue and the 49ers.
The San Francisco secondary has already stifled Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick en route to posting a 4-1 record this season. Playing such pass-heavy teams has allowed Chris Culliver, the third 49ers cornerback, to receive plenty of playing time through the early part of the schedule.
Opposing quarterbacks haven’t had much success against Culliver, who grabbed his first interception of the year on Sunday near the goal line.
“The more I play, the more confident I get,” Culliver said.
The second-year player attributes much of his success to his study habits in the classroom. Working with a position group that includes cerebral veterans like Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson has rubbed off on Culliver.
“I know a lot more this year than what I did last year,” Culliver said. “Just reading offenses, knowing combinations and things. That helps me out a lot.”
Culliver enters Sunday’s NFC Championship game rematch with a good background on the group receivers he’s about to face, having competed against them twice last year. He still remembers the touchdown Manning threw to former Giants receiver and current 49ers teammate Mario Manningham in the Week 10 matchup, when Culliver was beat in one-on-one coverage.
“In my head, that’s not going to happen again,” Culliver said.
The 49ers lead the NFL in scoring defense (13.6 points per game) and rank second in yards allowed (262.6). San Francisco also checks in at No. 2 in passing yards allowed (181.2), while totaling four interceptions so far this year.
Despite the heated rivalry between the two teams, Culliver said he’s going to approach this game like any other.
“I know everybody’s talking about the NFC Championship,” Culliver said. “But we have different people, they have different people. We’re going to go out there and give it our all, we’re not going to go out there and lay down for nobody.
“They played a good game last year, but that was last year. They’re doing well and we’re doing well. We’ll see who wins at the end of the game on Sunday.”
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