Rogers, 49ers pass defense prepares for challenge

January 16, 2012, 4:21 pm
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Carlos Rogers had an impressive day against the New York Giants on Nov. 13. And the 49ers' cornerback exited the game equally impressed with Giants receiver Victor Cruz.Rogers recorded two interceptions against Giants quarterback Eli Manning to help punch his ticket to the Pro Bowl. One of his picks came in the fourth quarter and led directly to a touchdown in the 49ers' 27-20 victory at Candlestick Park.REWIND: Smith manages another 49ers victory
And when Rogers sat down to fill out his personal Pro Bowl ballot last month, Cruz received one of his votes. Cruz finished third in the NFL with 1,536 receiving yards. Despite Rogers' support, Cruz was not chosen to represent the NFC in the Pro Bowl.Cruz caught six passes for 84 yards against the 49ers in their face-to-face meeting. The challenge and the stakes will be much greater on Sunday at Candlestick Park when the teams meet in the NFC Championship Game, beginning at 3:30 p.m.REWIND: Giants expect to face the 49ers again
"A lot of my work will be done on the inside (slot) facing Cruz," Rogers said on Sunday. "He's a very good receiver who's come a long, long way. I'll have to do the same thing this game. . . . Any turnovers I can get, I got to get them."The Giants' 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday meant the 49ers would play host to the Giants on Sunday for the right to advance to Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis. If the top-seeded Packers had won Sunday, the NFC title game would've taken place in Green Bay."It's great," Rogers said of the Giants' victory. "It's a lot better than traveling to Wisconsin, so we'll take that any day. More important, we're playing a team that we already faced, so it's not as hard as preparing for another team we haven't faced yet.""It's a relief. The traveling is a big thing. We're getting a home game, facing them in front of our fans. We're familiar with the team. The team has gotten better since we played them. This team always sparks late in the season when it counts -- November, December and into the bowl season. We're still going to have our work cut out, and we still have a lot of work to do."Of course, Cruz isn't the only dangerous Giants receiver. In two playoff games, Hakeem Nicks has 13 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Nicks, who returned in November to face the 49ers after missing a game with a hamstring injury, caught two passes in that game for 41 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown.When the 49ers and Giants first met, the first six scores were field goals. David Akers made four field goals, as the 49ers took a 12-6 lead in the third quarter.REWIND: Akers vital with four FGs and onside kick
This figures to be another closely contested game. Rogers, who faced the Giants twice a year for six seasons with the Washington Redskins, said the 49ers' pass-rush has to make it difficult on Manning to get the ball to his wideouts."In November and December, he's always stepped up," Rogers said. "Eli has a Super Bowl. You can get that Eli who throws for 300, 400 yards and you can also get the Eli who can throw you picks. You can frustrate him."Our defensive line can rattle him in the pocket. And when we get the chance, we're going to have to make the turnovers. But I always put Eli up as one of the elite quarterbacks."

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