It was 58 degrees and sunny at Candlestick Park when the New York Giants visited the 49ers on Nov. 13. The 49ers won that day, 27-20, sending the Giants on their way into a four-game losing streak.Expect it to be cooler and damper on Sunday when the teams meet again in the NFC Championship Game.And weather won't be the only difference.
--"I think schematically, maybe (the Giants are) doing a little less," 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said. "(They're) playing faster though. I think it's even helped them. They've seemed to be creating more turnovers, playing faster on defense."--Smith played well in that first game, and his confidence has continued to build. After last week's performance against the Saints, the level of his play is at an all-time high. In the first meeting, Smith completed 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Perhaps his best throw was a pass that Michael Crabtree failed to catch in the end zone. He also had some communication issues with then-49ers receiver Braylon Edwards near the goal line. Smith's one interception was on a pass in which he hit Ted Ginn in the hands and deflected to Giants cornerback Corey Webster.--San Francisco running back Frank Gore is at full strength after being a non-factor in the first meeting. He carried just six times for zero yards before exiting the game in the first half with a knee contusion. Kendall Hunter led the 49ers with six carries for 40 yards. The 49ers virtually abandoned the run game. They're likely to be more balanced this time around.
--Giants linebacker Michael Boley, the team's second-leading tackler and their biggest presence in the middle of the field, did not play in the second half of that game after sustaining a hamstring injury.--Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw did not suit up due to a foot injury. Bradshaw leads the Giants with 26 carries for 126 yards in the playoffs. And starting fullback Henry Hynoski did not play. It was one of five games he missed because of a neck injury.--David Diehl, who started at left guard against the 49ers, is now playing left tackle in place of Will Beatty, who's out an eye injury. Kevin Boothe has taken over at left guard. After averaging 3.5 yards per rush as a team in the regular season, they've improved to a 4.6-yard average against Atlanta and Green Bay in their two playoff games.
--Back then, Braylon Edwards opened the game as a starting receiver for the 49ers. Ted Ginn was the No. 3 wideout. Edwards never appeared to get healthy. He has since been released. Ginn's availability for Sunday's game is in doubt with a right knee injury. If Ginn does not play, Kyle Williams would start and Brett Swain would become the No. 3 receiver.--Tight end Delanie Walker was the 49ers' leading receiver with six catches for 69 yards. He has not played since sustaining a fractured jaw on Christmas Eve against the Seattle Seahawks. He returned to practice this week.
--Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks returned after missing a game with a hamstring injury. The 49ers rolled coverage to Nicks' side. He caught two passes for 41 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.