|New York and San Francisco met on January 20, 1991 and Montana and Hostetler both took beatings that day. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
In the days leading up to Sunday's Giants-49ers NFC Championship game, New York running back Brandon Jacobs -- all 6-4, 265 pounds of him -- declared that "I wish like hell they'd hit me in the head. ... A helmet-to-helmet hit. I want one of those. Because that means they're staying high, you know. They're not going to the ground and trying to make tackles at the shoe strings."
Not long after, 49ers safety Donte Whitner, the man who knocked Saints running back Pierre Thomas out of last week's game with a concussion, spoke frankly about San Francisco's defense.
“We play physical,’’ he said according to the New York Post. “Whenever you play physical, people get hurt.’’
Whitner quickly qualified that it's not anyone's plan to injure or maim an opponent but football is a physical enterprise (just ask Joe Montana).
"We don’t want to go out and intentionally hurt anybody," he said. "But when you play this game the way we play, we play fast and carefree, some guys are going to end up getting injured. We are not going to stop playing physical. Guys come out of the game, hopefully it’s not too bad of an injury.’’
The Giants, unlike the Saints, aren't a finesse offense. In fact, they seem to welcome physical play. As we pointed out previously, they have a wide receiver who looks like a tight end (Hakeem Nicks), a tight end who looks like an offensive lineman (Jake Ballard), and a bruising running back who -- shocker -- likes to steamroll any defender unlucky enough to get in his way. (Of course, NFL Network analyst and former NFL defensive lineman Warren Sapp has called Jacobs the "tiptoe burglar" for his running style.)
But it's not Jacobs that concerns San Francisco's defense. It's his backfield partner, Ahmad Bradshaw.
“He’s going to be where our focus is this week,” Whitner said. “We have to take him out of the game.’’
Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh, a lock for NFL coach of the year honors, isn't short on confidence. And neither, is sounds, is his team.
“The only thing we have to fear is being unprepared,’’ Harbaugh said via the Post. “Like I’ve always said, you damn sure got to be confident. All these guys are.’’
After dominating the Green Bay Packers last week, the New York Giants will travel to Candlestick Park to square off against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship. Join NFL.com's Pat Kirwan and Jason Horowitz as they break down this matchup.
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