49ers key matchup No. 1: Smith vs. Manning

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49ers key matchup No. 1: Smith vs. Manning

This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Giants matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX-TV), at Candlestick Park.

Matchup No. 3: Justin Smith vs. Kevin Boothe
Matchup No.2: Joe Staley vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
49ers QB Alex Smith vs. Giants QB Eli ManningTale of the tape
Smith (11): 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, eighth season, Utah
Manning (10): 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, ninth season, MississippiThere are a lot of different ways to spin the key matchup in this game.It could be 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers against the New York Giants' top receiver, Victor Cruz. It could be Michael Crabtree, who was held to one reception for 3 yards in the NFC championship game, against left cornerback Corey Webster.We've examined key matchups when comes to pass protection, too. But it all boils down to is this: Alex Smith vs. Eli Manning.The quarterback who makes the most plays and does not commit the critical mistake will give his team the best chance of winning this matchup of NFC heavyweights.The 49ers' passing game struggled during the Giants' 20-17 overtime victory in the NFC championship game. Smith competed just 12 of 26 pass attempts for 196 yards. The 49ers converted just one of 13 third-down opportunities.That failure to connect on plays on the outside inspired the 49ers to sign free-agent wide receivers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss, as well as select A.J. Jenkins in the first round of the draft.The 49ers' offense looks much-improved through five games. The 49ers are coming off a 621-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills to become the first team in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 300 yards in the same game."Both teams are different," Smith said. "Even looking at last year's tape of us, a lot of faces have changed here and there and that's the nature of this game. Can't get caught up too much in last year and what was going on. I think both of us are different."Smith enters the game as the NFL's leading passer with a 108.7 efficiency rating. Manning, who has two Super Bowl rings to his credit, is No. 9 at 96.0.
Manning has thrown for nearly 100 more yards per game Smith. Manning has accounted for 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, while Smith has tossed eight touchdowns and just one interception.In the NFC championship game, Manning took a beating. He was sacked six times and was knocked down 12 times. Yet, he kept getting up and made the plays to enable the Giants to pull out the victory and advance to a Super Bowl title. He completed 32 of 58 passing attempts for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
"He's a good quarterback," 49ers All-Pro defensive lineman Justin Smith said. "A lot of people don't give him the respect he deserves. I think he's definitely one of the top three, four quarterbacks in the league. it's going to be a tough game."

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.

After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.

The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.

Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.

The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.

The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.

Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.