When the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers meet Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park (6:30 p.m. ET/FOX) the game will match the Giants explosive offense against the 49ers stingy defense. Let's break down how those two units match up against each other.
First, some numbers. The Giants average of 24.6 points per game in the regular season was ninth in the league, and they were eighth overall in yards per game (385.1). The 49ers surrendered only 14.3 points per game, second in the league to Pittsburgh's 14.2. They were first in the league in run defense (77.3 yards per game) and fourth overall (308.1 yards per game).
So, we have the classic meeting of the big-play offense against the big-time defense. When the two teams met in the regular season the Giants lost, 27-20. They did, however, have some success against the San Francisco defense. They totaled 395 yards, scored those 20 points and did have the ball at the 49ers 10-yard line with a chance to win in the final minute before San Francisco's Justin Smith batted down an Eli Manning pass on fourth down to secure the win for the 49ers.
While the Giants were last in the league in yards per game rushing (89.2) one of the keys for New York will be having at least some success running the ball against San Francisco's top-ranked run defense. In the first meeting the Giants rushed for only 93 yards (3.2 per carry), but the did have 29 rushing attempts. That means they didn't have a ton of success, but they did well enough to keep the threat of the run in play, and that is probably good enough.
"We are about balance. We rushed the ball 29 times when we were out there and we did win time of possession. We did have 70 snaps to their 52," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin. "We did all the things that you want to do but we just didn't score enough points."
The Giants sometimes vulnerable offensive line will have to do at least an adequate job against a 49ers defense that features linebackers Navorro Bowman, Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith, and defensive end Justin Smith.
"I think our guys recognize that they're a terrific group, especially, I would be minimizing the quality of the secondary, which I think is excellent too, but they are an unbelievable front. They do a great job," said Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. "I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge. We just say, ‘Hey, if we're as good as we think we are, then we're going to have an opportunity to prove and we're going to prove it against an unbelievable defensive unit.' I think, to be quite candid, our guys are looking forward to it."
If the Giants can run enough to keep San Francisco from teeing off on Manning New York figures to have some opportunities for plays from its talented receiving corps. In the first meeting between the teams Manning was 26-of-40 for 311 yards and the Giants got a 32-yard touchdown from Hakeem Nicks and a 36-yard reception from Victor Cruz.
New York Giants Offensive Summary
|Offense||24.6||385.1 (8th)||295.9 (5th)||89.2 (32nd)|
San Francisco 49ers Defensive Summary
|Defense||14.3||308.1 (4th)||230.9 (16th)||77.3 (1st)|