Giants vs. 49ers: 3 things to watch
The Giants head west to face the NFC West champion Niners in the NFC Championship game. Metro gives you three things to watch out for in Sunday’s game.
1. Know which way the wind blows
The weatherperson might be the most watched individual in the Bay Area this week. Sunday’s forecast for San Francisco is for temperatures in the mid-50s with a chance of showers. And leading up to opening kickoff it’s being reported that it should rain off and on all week. That makes for sloppy conditions, which could heavily favor the Niners. Candlestick Park is already below sea level so any extra water benefits the team with the superior ground game and run-blockers. If it turns into a muddy affair that means a whole lot of 49ers running back Frank Gore (1,211 yards, 4.3 yards per carry and eight rushing touchdowns in the regular season).
2. Feelin’ fine
The Giants are getting healthy at the right time, as players like linebacker Michael Boley and defensive end Osi Umenyiora didn’t play in the regular season matchup. But it should be noted that Gore didn’t play much either, as he was knocked out in the first half with a knee injury and didn’t play in the second half. When he did play, however, Gore was a non-factor (six rushing yards). Whichever team imposes its will and wins the game of attrition in what should be a physical game goes a long way into deciding the winner.
3. Top of the heap
This is just the second time since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger that two former No. 1-overall draft picks at quarterback face off in the conference championship game. Giants quarterback Eli Manning (No. 1 in 2004) and Niners quarterback Alex Smith (No. 1 in 2005) will most certainly have huge roles in their team’s fortunes. While Manning has finally entered the elite stratosphere with his career year this season, Smith has just finally started to shake loose his bust label. If it turns into a shootout, Manning has the decided edge, but Smith showed last week in out-dueling Drew Brees that he’s capable at keeping defenses honest and not allowing them to solely key on Gore.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.