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Players to Watch vs. 49ers


1) RB Ahmad Bradshaw – Fumbling on his first carry last week, Bradshaw fired himself up and went on to have the best statistical performance of his career. He rushed for 200 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries against the Browns, but the Giants rushing game will take on the No. 7 run defense in the NFL this week in San Francisco. In their last meeting, Bradshaw rushed 20 times for 74 yards in addition to six catches for another 52.

"Expect the unexpected," he said Thursday. "With this line, there's no telling what we can accomplish and we're just going to go out there and give it our all."

2) LB Keith Rivers – Nagged by a hamstring injury, Keith Rivers has missed three games this season, including the last two. However, the linebacker has turned a corner this week and is probable for Sunday. His return could come at the right time as the Giants take on a formidable rushing attack along with a dynamic tight end in Vernon Davis.

"Definitely feel like we can matchup speed-wise," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said Thursday of Rivers and his linebackers matching up with Davis. "We just have to, as we've introduced Keith back into the lineup, see how much can he just get out there and really give us. We'll continue to work with him, but we'll definitely utilize his speed out there on the field."

3) DE Justin Tuck – While the Giants were shut out in terms of sacks last week, Justin Tuck has been shut out all season. Fellow defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul have combined for 3.5 this season, and the whole unit is left wondering when they will break out.

"I think we all are kind of puzzled by the fact," said Tuck, who had 1.5 sacks in the NFC Championship against the 49ers. "It's not like we forgot how to rush the passer. We've been doing it all our lives. It's something strange, but we'll figure it out."

4) FB Henry Hynoski – If you've seen any of the Giants' six rushing touchdowns (tied for sixth in the NFL) this season, you've seen No. 45 leading the way each time. This is the type of game fit for a pure fullback like Hynoski. And if you like a physical brand of football, keep your eyes on the Hynocerous.

5) WR Hakeem Nicks – Questionable isn't probable, but it's an upgrade either way for Nicks, who has missed the last three weeks. Other receivers have stepped up in his absence, but there's nothing like the real deal for game day.

"There's a reason he's a starter," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "You see the contribution he's capable of making when you see Tampa Bay, that's the difference. The other guys, as you have mentioned, have filled in admirably. We're very proud to see what Ramses (Barden) did for a couple of games, what Rueben (Randle) did this past game, Domenik (Hixon) has been unbelievable all season long. A lot of the things that maybe people on the outside don't see, not only the terrific catches, but his blocking, his route running, some of the things he's done have been phenomenal. I'm proud of them all, but you always want your best players, when you get your starters to come back."


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