Fact or Fiction ...
1) The 49ers are the best defense the Giants have faced this year.Dan Salomone: Fact
- *Lost in their smash mouth persona of not giving an inch to opposing offenses, people might overlook their 23 interceptions, which is tied for second in the NFL. Along with 15 fumbles, the 49ers were tied with Green Bay for first in total takeaways (38). The Packers seemed to garner more attention with all of their turnovers, but just imagine that capability to take away the ball coupled with the league's No. 4 defense in yards allowed (No. 1 in NFC). That's the 49ers.
*Michael Eisen: Fact - According to the NFL's official statistic it is. The Niners ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed. The Giants didn't play any of the top three teams (Pittsburgh, Houston and Baltimore). San Fran was second in scoring defense, behind only the Steelers. With those numbers and their talent, the 49ers have the best defense the Giants have faced.
2) Frank Gore will rush for more than 100 yards.Salomone: Fiction
- The 49ers' all-time leading rusher, who watched the second half of the mid-November Giants game from the sideline with an ankle injury, had only 13 carries against the Saints despite his team playing with the lead for more than three quarters. It will be interesting to see how the run-pass balance unfolds while the Giants haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Dallas on Dec. 11. They may have given up more than 100 to a combination of running backs in between, but New York has been shutting down primary backs as of late. (Side note: Gore had six carries for zero yards before he was injured against the Giants).
Eisen: Fiction - The Giants' run defense has improved and stopping Gore will be Job One on Sunday.
3) Alex Smith is a different QB than the one the Giants faced earlier in the Season
Salomone: Fiction -*In your seventh year as a professional, you are what you are. What he seems to have now – that he didn't have before -- is stability around him. So I can't say much has changed about him personally this season. But I will say his confidence must be at an all-time high after outdueling Drew Brees, which followed up a mistake-free regular season.
Eisen: Fact -The guys doesn't just improve every game, but seemingly every quarter. He's playing with great confidence and throwing the ball extremely well. The Giants can't afford to underestimate him.
*4) The Giants will have a rushing touchdown (the 49ers didn't give one up until Week 16).
Eisen: Fact - The Giants will be in the red zone often enough for Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs to break one into the end zone.
Salomone: Fact -*Granted, the 49ers barely gave up a rushing touchdown all season. Granted, the Giants didn't get one the first time around. Granted, San Francisco has the No. 1 rush defense. But with that said, no matter how ugly the running game is looking, the Giants always seem to find the end zone. They were last in the league in yards, but sixth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns (17). *
5) Hakeem Nicks will continue his streak of two touchdown catches in the playoffsSalomone: Fiction - *It will be someone else's turn against this stingy defense.*
Eisen: Fiction - The 49ers secondary will be all over Nicks – but that should create some opportunities for Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham.