NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: GIANTS VS. 49ERS - SCOUTING REPORT

"Sunday, January 22, 2012 marks the 42nd NFC Championship Game. It will be the
fifth time that the New York Giants
have made an appearance. They have never lost in this round of the playoffs and
have split the games equally on the road and at home.



The San Francisco
49ers
have made the second-most appearances in the Championship game,
thirteen to be exact. Their record in this round is 5-7. Their W/L percentage is
.500 at home (4-4). The Niners have lost their last four out of five games in
this round.




It was 1991 when last these two teams met in the NFC title game. Joe Montana
was throwing for the 49ers. Jeff Hostetler was filling in, quite well, for an
injured Phil Simms. The Giants came out on top, 15-13. Now, these two teams will
square off for the second time this season in, what is beginning to look like,
another "Cinderella" story for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew.







Position-By-Position Breakdowns
-- The Offenses
-- The Defenses
-- The Special Teams







Who are the San Francisco 49ers?




They are a team who finished with the third-best record in the regular
season, 13-3. They are a team who were one game out of last place in 2010. Sadly
enough, they were also one game out of first, housed in a division that could
have used a shot of Viagra. They are a team that defeated the Giants earlier in
the year. That loss initiated a four game losing streak for Big Blue. They are
also a team that has one of the top five defenses in the league and aim to shut
down a ridiculously talented New York aerial attack.




Who are the New York Giants?




If you haven't heard by now, these are the same guys who sent the "best
football team in history" to bed without any supper. Last week, the Giants
bested the best in Lambeau Field, a place that is not easy to win at. They are
currently on a four-game winning streak. So are the 49ers, with a week off in
between, of course. One of these team's streaks will come to an end this Sunday.
One team's journey will continue. Who will be crowned the NFC Champions this
Sunday in San Francisco?





Passing:




Alex Smith is not one of the flashier quarterbacks this season. He did not
throw for a gazillion yards. He hasn't thrown many touchdowns. He is not even in
the top ten. In fact, he was the most sacked quarterback in the league. What he
did do is throw the least amount of interceptions this year (5) and make the
plays he needed to make that allowed his team to clinch a Bye week in the
playoffs and their division.




ATT - 445




Comp - 273




YDS - 3,144




Comp % - 61.3




Yds/CMP - 7.1




TDs - 17




INT - 5




Sack - 44




QB Rating - 90.7




Alex Smith is ranked No. 19 in the league (PASSING YARDS).




His postseason QB Rating is 103.2 (1 game)




Eli Manning has
officially finished his training at the Shaolin Temple and has earned his
"elite" status. He is averaging 303.5 yards per game in the postseason. That is
a nice number but his regular season average is even better. There is no
question that this kid will finish his career in New York and his jersey number
will be retired.




ATT - 589




Comp - 359




YDS - 4,933




Comp % - 61.0




Yds/CMP - 8.4




TDs - 29




INT - 16




Sack - 28




QB Rating - 92.9




Eli Manning is ranked No. 4 in the league (PASSING YARDS).




His postseason QB Rating is 121.8 (2 games).




Rushing:




Frank Gore
finished the year out with 1,211 rushing yards, sixth-most in the NFL. He also
got off to a bang-up start last week. He was the league's second-leading rusher
with eighty-nine yards. This is where the Niners are most dangerous in their
offensive scheme.




San Francisco's running game is ranked 8th in regular season play.




They are ranked 5th in the postseason (1 game).




It was a rough season for the Giants rushing game. The tandem of Brandon
Jacobs
and Ahmad
Bradshaw
collectively ran for 1,230 yards, just nineteen yards more than
Frank Gore. These are small numbers considering that Jacobs and Bradshaw ran for
over 2,000 yards last season. Yet, they have picked things up a bit towards the
end of the regular season and in the playoffs.




New York's running game is ranked 32nd in regular season play.




They are ranked 7th in the postseason (2 games).




Receiving:




Michael
Crabtree
led the Niners in reception yards (874) during the regular season.
He recorded four touchdowns to boot. Vernon Davis
came in second, with 792 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Last week, in the
Divisional game, Davis led the league with 180 receiving yards. Those are big
numbers when you factor in that he only had seven receptions.




The 49ers are ranked 30th in receiving yards (regular season).




They are ranked 5th in the postseason (1 game).




Victor Cruz
was somewhat limited in his play last week. But "limited", as it pertains to
Cruz, is not exactly a text book definition of the word. He had seventy-four
receiving yards on five receptions. Opposing defenses have figured out that it
would be a good idea to double and triple team him. That sort of scheming is not
what one would call conducive to shutting down the Giants' offense. Hakeem Nicks
is as equal a threat as Cruz is. Nicks has 280 receiving yards this postseason
and has the most touchdowns, four. Also coming up big is Mario
Manningham
, Travis
Beckum
, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. This receiving corps is very hard
to successfully scheme against.




The Giants are ranked 5th in receiving yards (regular season).




They are ranked 2nd in the postseason (2 games).




Offensive Line:




The Frisco offensive line was able to punch holes in opposing defensive lines
to get their running game going. Yet, they were not strong enough to protect
Alex Smith throughout the year. Smith was the most sacked quarterback in the
NFL. The way the Giants front four have been playing, this group is in for a
long day.




San Francisco's Offensive Line is ranked No. 26 (regular season).




They are ranked No. 7 in the postseason (1 game).




The Giants' O-line have been quietly doing well all season long,
statistically speaking. They gave up the fifth-least amount of quarterback sacks
and the twelfth-least amount of quarterback hits. The running game wasn't
prevalent this season. The jury is still out on if they should bear the brunt of
the blame.




New York's Offensive Line is ranked No. 7 (regular season).




They are ranked No. 4 in the postseason (2 games).




The 49ers are ranked 26th in TOTAL OFFENSE (regular season).




They are ranked 5th in the postseason (1 game).




The Giants are ranked 8th in TOTAL OFFENSE (regular season).




They are ranked 3rd in the postseason (2 games).




Linebackers:




Frisco's NaVorro Bowman had the seventh most combined tackles (143) out of
all the linebackers in the NFL during the regular season. Patrick
Willis
came in second on the team with ninety-seven combined tackles. Each
had two sacks. But the real talent of this backer crew is, first-round Draft
pick, Aldon Smith
and Ahmad Brooks. Smith finished the year with fourteen sacks. Brooks with
seven. The Giants O-line will have their hands full, as the Niners will
undoubtedly be bringing the pressure.




The 49ers have the No. 1 ranked rush defense (regular season).




They are ranked No. 1 in the postseason (1 game).




They may have had their struggles earlier in the year. But they have it all
together now. Michael Boley,
who only had one sack during the regular season, put Aaron Rodgers
on the ground twice last week. He ranks third in postseason tackles (14). Chase
Blackburn
comes in with thirteen tackles and a fumble recovery. Mathias
Kiwanuka
and Jacquain Williams also have been looking sharp .




The Giants have the 19th ranked rush defense (regular season).




They have the 5th ranked rush defense in the postseason (2 games).




Defensive Line:




The stand-out player on the Niners D-line is Justin Smith.
He finished the year with 58 tackles, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Ray McDonald
put together 5.5 sacks, two pass deflections and two forced fumbles on the year.
Aside from one sack in the postseason, this front three have been
neutralized.




Easily the strongest and scariest part of this Giants defense. Jason
Pierre-Paul
was the leading tackler of all defensive lineman in the NFL. JPP
also had the fourth-most sacks in the league. He is second in postseason
tackles. In the postseason, they have been equally beastly. Osi Umenyiora
has 3.0 sacks, a half sack out of the lead. Rocky Bernard
has one postseason sack. Linval
Joseph
, Chris Canty and
Justin Tuck have
all amped up their play as well. The Frisco O-line will be feeling the effects
of this game for weeks to come.




Secondary:




If you are looking for a vulnerability on this 49ers team, you've found it.
The run defense for San Fran has been so good this past year that it escalated
them up the stats ladder. Defending the pass is definitely not their forte. Last
week they gave up 435 yards and four touchdowns. You can almost hear the crowd
chanting now, "CRUUUUUZZZZZZ!"




San Francisco's pass defense is ranked 16th.




They are ranked 11th in the postseason (1 game).




The Giants just took on two of the most potent offenses in the NFL. To break
it down a touch further, they just played the Green Bay
Packers
. This secondary, who had its toils throughout the season, seems to
have finally found the wining formula. In the last two postseason games, they
have only given up 212 yards per game. Those are pretty good numbers,
considering the two teams that they just contained. This is a rejuvenated
secondary who are doing it all.




New York's pass defense is ranked 29th (regular season).




They are ranked 5th in the postseason (2 games).




Special Teams:




This is one of the strongest branches of this 49ers team. David Akers is
in his thirteenth season and is one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL.
Akers made seven 50+ yard field goals this season and was the league's leading
kicker. Keep in mind, the more field goals a team has made, the less trips to
the end zone did they take. Andy Lee was one of
the better punters this year. His 50.9 average led the league. Their return game
is nothing to sneeze at. Ted Ginn returned a kickoff for 102 yards earlier in
the year. Ginn had 800 kick return yards and 466 punt return yards, including a
55 yard touchdown return.




The Giants weren't overly impressive on Special Teams during the regular
season. That trend is continuing, somewhat, in the postseason. Lawrence
Tynes
is tied for first with four field goals. They don't rank very high in
the punting area. That is because they have not had to punt the ball much. Steve
Weatherford
has only had to punt six times in the last two games. That, in
and of itself, tells that tale of this Giants offense.




The San Francisco 49ers total defense is ranked 4th (regular
season).




They are ranked 11th in the postseason (1 game).




The New York Giants total defense is ranked 27th (regular season).




They are ranked 4th in the postseason (2 games).




Jim Harbaugh may win coach of the year. He has earned, at the very least, a
nomination for how he has turned this 49er team around. Many analysts consider
San Francisco to be the most complete team in the playoffs. When you consider
that they gave up over four-hundred yards of offense last week, it really does
alter that perception.




While their regular season doesn't indicate this, the New York Giants seem to
be playing the most well-rounded football this postseason and this is exactly
when you want your team's pilot light on high. The Giants are definitely heating
things up and doing the impossible once again. They are just one win away from
the big game. Can they finish?"

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: RAIN, RAIN WON'T GO AWAY

"Are the New York Giants
better mudders than the San Francisco
49ers
? Seems like we are going to have to find out Sunday in the NFC
Championship Game.



According to WeatherChannel.com, it is supposed to start raining in San
Francisco on Thursday and pretty much not stop until Monday. That, of course,
means messy conditions Sunday at Candlestick Park.




Does bad weather favor the Giants or the 49ers? You can probably make an
argument either way.




The Giants are the big-play offense that depends on vertical plays in the
passing game and yards after catch from their receivers. Theoretically, those
would be harder to come by on a wet, slippery track. You could also argue that
rain could impact the ability to throw the ball accurately to begin with.




The 49ers offense is built around Frank Gore and
the running game, so a muddy track should not be as much of an issue for them.
However, on paper the 49ers have an advantage in the kicking game with punter Andy Lee and
placekicker David Akers both
being named All-Pro, and a messy track might neutralize that, especially when it
comes to Akers, a perennial Giants nemesis.




Thoughts, Giants fans?"