NFC Championship Q&A -- Victor Cruz

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NFC Championship Q&A -- Victor Cruz

The receiver who wasn't even drafted in 2010, who arrived in Giants camp as a free agent that year with little hope of making the team, has been transformed into one of the game's top targets. Victor Cruz made New York's 53-man roster two seasons ago after finishing the preseason leading the NFL with 297 receiving yards, but he spent much of the year on IR. In 2011, the team's No. 4 receiver stepped up following injuries to both Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon and finished with 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine TDs.

BOX SCORE: 49ers 27, Giants 20
WR Victor CruzJan. 16, 2012

Q: How proud are you of the win against the Packers?
Cruz: Of course, any time you go on the road against a tough opponent, a team that has gone 15-1 and you go in there and play as well as we did and do all the positive things we set out to do, its something were very proud of and were looking to continue that trend.

Q: How much of a motivating factor is it that you lost to San Francisco earlier in the season?
Cruz: Its very motivating. We understand that game came down to the wire and we were one play away from potentially winning that ballgame. Its a little sweet to go out there and play a team that weve already played and know that weve fought tooth-and-nail with. Hopefully it doesnt come down to the wire, hopefully we can win the game pretty well. As long as we can execute and do all the things we know how to do, well be okay.

Q: Chris Canty recently said that this time of year is all about the guys in the locker room and your teammates, is that true?
Cruz: Most definitely, its all about the moments you spend with the guys and understanding we can do something special. The guys we share it with, the guys on this team have been phenomenal all year. We understand this is a special time for us and we have to take advantage of it and soak in all the time and be ready to play this upcoming weekend.

Q: How important is the momentum the team is riding right now?
Cruz: We are riding a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence. Its great to play with that. Were a scary team right now because of the confidence were playing with and the amount of integrity and amount of passion we are playing with right now. At every position, not just Eli or myself or the defense. Everyone is playing with that same confidence and intensity. We are a scary team right now.
Q: Do you feel unstoppable?
Cruz: Thats a tricky word, but in a sense we do feel like, if were playing like weve been playing, if were executing at a high level the way weve been playing, were a tough team to stop.

Q: How is your injury?
Cruz: I am pretty good, I just got a little helmet to the thigh, but its nothing a little ice cant heal.

Q: What do you take with you from the first game against the 49ers
Cruz: Just the fact that we were able to move the ball pretty efficiently that game. We were going up and down, we had a few turnovers, unfortunately, early on in that game. We felt like we did some positive things. We basically controlled a lot of that game. Were looking to repeat that.

Q: Were you hoping to see them again at some point?
Cruz: We understood that they were a team we could potentially see again and that we wanted to see again in this situation. We got what we asked for.

Q: What does it say that you only need one more win to make it to the Super Bowl
Cruz: It says a lot. We had to battle through a lot of injuries early on this year and a lot of question marks in the receivers room early on as well. Just to overcome that and for guys to shine and step up and play well has been tremendous for our confidence. Weve been building off that ever since.

49ers snap count: Buckner never comes out against Bears

49ers snap count: Buckner never comes out against Bears

CHICAGO – Rookie DeForest Buckner continues to be one of the most heavily-used defensive lineman in the NFL.

Buckner, whom the 49ers chose with the No. 7 overall pick, was one of just two defensive players to be on the field for every snap during the 49ers’ 26-6 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Buckner is playing an inordinate number of snaps on the line, which generally consists of a handful of players who rotate in and out of the game. Buckner was credited with five tackles in the game.

Shaun Draughn, who opened the season as the 49ers’ No. 2 running back before briefly losing playing time to Mike Davis and DuJuan Harris, has returned to be Carlos Hyde’s backup. Draughn saw action on 25 offensive plays, while Hyde played 33 snaps.

Colin Kaepernick started his seventh game of the season and played the first 45 snaps before he was benched. Blaine Gabbert finished up, as he was on the field for the 49ers’ final 13 plays.

Neither quarterback experienced much success. Kaepernick completed one of five attempts for 4 yards. He was sacked five times and gained 20 yards on six running attempts. Gabbert was four of 10 for 35 yards. He was sacked late in the game for a safety.

Here’s a look at the complete playing time of every 49ers player on offensive, defensive and special teams:

Offense
58 -- LT Joe Staley, LG Zane Beadles, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Joshua Garnett, RT Trent Brown
53 -- TE Vance McDonald
45 -- QB Colin Kaepernick
39 -- WR Quinton Patton
38 -- WR Torrey Smith
37 -- WR Jeremy Kerley
33 -- RB Carlos Hyde
25 -- RB Shaun Draughn, TE Garrett Celek
19 -- WR Chris Harper
14 -- WR Rod Streater
13 -- QB Blaine Gabbert
5 -- TE Blake Bell
2 -- RB DuJuan Harris

Defense
63 -- CB Jimmie Ward, DT DeForest Buckner
62 -- LB Nick Bellore, SS Antoine Bethea, CB Tramaine Brock
59 -- SS Jaquiski Tartt, LB Ahmad Brooks
51 -- LB Eli Harold
48 -- LB Gerald Hodges
47 -- DL Glenn Dorsey
28 -- DL Chris Jones
23 -- CB Rashard Robinson
21 -- DL Ronald Blair
14 -- LB Michael Wilhoite
13 -- DL Quinton Dial
11 -- LB Tank Carradine
2 -- DB Dontae Johnson, DB Vinnie Sunseri, DB Keith Reaser
1 -- DL Mike Purcell

Special teams
27 -- Johnson
23 -- Bell, Aaron Burbridge
22 -- Wilhoite
20 -- Draughn
19 -- Sunseri
17 -- Marcus Ball, Streater
12 -- Bellore, Tartt
11 -- Bradley Pinion, Harris
10 -- Kyle Nelson, Celek, Robinson, Purcell
8 -- Ward, Jones
7 -- Kerley
6 -- JaCorey Shepherd, Reaser
5 -- Phil Dawson
4 -- Buckner, Brooks, Blair
2 -- Andrew Tiller, Staley, Beadles, Garnett, Brown, Dial
1 -- Harper

Did not play
OL Marcus Martin

Not active
QB Christian Ponder
RB Mike Davis
CB Marcus Cromartie
LB Aaron Lynch
T John Theus
TE Je’Ron Hamm
DL Quinton Dial

 

Cam Newton benched to start game vs Seahawks for breaking dress code

Cam Newton benched to start game vs Seahawks for breaking dress code

SEATTLE — A missing necktie led to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton getting benched for one series on Sunday night.

Ron Rivera didn't expect it to last just one play.

Carolina's miserable night was capped by a 40-7 loss to Seattle following the most awkward of starts. With Newton being punished for not having a necktie for the team flight to Seattle, the Panthers' starting QB watched backup Derek Anderson throw an interception on the first play of the game.

The turnover only led to a field goal for Seattle, but it was the start of an otherwise forgettable performance by the Panthers that provided another blow to the dwindling playoff hopes of the reigning NFC champions.

Newton missed just one play, but was also just 14-of-32 passing for 182 yards and one touchdown. After pulling within 10-7 in the second quarter, Carolina let Seattle score the final 30 points.