The 49ers have put the NFL on notice the past two weeks, posting a combined score of 79-3 in their two wins against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
The Empire State’s other team, the reigning Super Bowl champion Giants, are up next for the 49ers, who have impressed New York coach Tom Coughlin.
“I think they’re obviously playing very well,” Coughlin said in Wednesday’s conference call with the Bay Area media. “Look at the last two weeks, my goodness. That’s a lot of points on the board and they’ve given up nothing. They’re very strong, they’re playing very well and they’ve been able to go ahead and capitalize in all phases.”
The Giants, of course, knocked the 49ers out of the NFC Championship game last year at Candlestick Park. Receiver Victor Cruz played a big role in the January showdown, hauling in 10 catches for 142 yards, and said he’s looking forward to facing 49ers Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers again on Sunday.
“Just the things that have gone on and the times that we’ve played each other have been pretty eventful,” Cruz said. “Carlos is probably the only guy I have friendly, competitive games against.”
The two teams have changed in the months since their last meeting. The most notable personnel difference between the two elite NFC units concerns Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham, who both signed with the 49ers this offseason after winning a ring with the Giants.
New York has had contributions from receivers like Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle this season, while running backs David Wilson and backup Andre Brown have also helped soften the blow of the two departures. Not to mention starting tailback Ahmad Bradshaw is coming off of a 200-yard performance last week against the Cleveland Browns.
“I think we’ve done a good job of sticking to what we do best,” Cruz said. “Our passing game and as well as the run has opened up greatly as of late.”
The 49ers also feature one of the game’s premier backs in Frank Gore, who currently ranks seventh in the NFL with 432 rushing yards. Following last week’s 311-yard output on the ground in a record-setting 45-3 win, San Francisco leads the league in rushing, averaging 195.8 yards per game.
“He’s an outstanding player and he’s having a very, very good year,” Coughlin said of Gore. “He has an excellent offensive line and they’re doing the things that they want to do. They run it and they run it and they run it.”
On the other side of the ball, the Giants are tasked with facing one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses. The 49ers lead the league in scoring defense (13.6 points per game) and rank second in yards allowed (262.6).
Watching the 49ers on film this week, Cruz said much of the success has to do with the aggressive play of San Francisco’s tandem of safeties.
“Their safeties do a good job of being heavily involved in the run and Dashon Goldson covers a lot of ground back there in that post-safety position,” Cruz said. “It’s a mix of their linebackers being exceptional and coming up and playing the run and pass and having that extra defender in the box in Donte Whitner. So, it’s definitely helped them in stopping the run and being able to defend behind that as well.”
Tags: Tom Coughlin, Victor Cruz
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