Brandon Jacobs, the New York Giants' 6-foot-4, 264-pound running back, was called "a little soft" this week by Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice.Jacobs' response on Thursday?"I've grown up a San Francisco 49er fan," said Jacobs, who grew up in Louisiana. "I've loved Jerry Rice, I still love Jerry Rice, I give him a lot of credit for the game being the way it is today. I have nothing negative to say about Jerry. If he feels that way, he feels that way. I bet you he won't tackle me."Laughter ensued and the interview with East Coast reporters was done.But Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride had a more philosophical approach. After all, Jacobs' 571-yard rushing season was the lowest output of his career since 2006, and his 3.8-yards-per-carry average was the third-lowest of his seven-year career.Still, Jacobs, soft?"I think it's just because you see this big, powerful man and if he's not running over somebody every snap then people are almost disappointed," Gilbride said. "Unfortunately, the people that he's going against are big, strong men, powerful men as well. I think once he gets going, as you've seen, I'm not sure there's many people that like to get in his way. It takes him, as it does any back, an opportunity to get his feet underneath him and get through the hole. But once he gets going he's really, and I mean this in a positive way, a freak of nature."To be that big and powerful and to run as fast as he does, there are not many people that have that combination. So when he is in the open space you see people shying out of the way. Until you get by the line of scrimmage -- those guys are 300-plus pounds -- they're bigger than he is, too. Plus he hasn't had a chance to build up much momentum. But once he gets going he's a powerful guy."Jacobs' words were just as powerful earlier in the day, when he was reminded of the 49ers knocking New Orleans running back Pierre Thomas out of the game early on a hit by Donte Whitner."To get knocked out, that means they hit you on the head," Jacobs said. "I wish like hell one of them would try to hit me in my head. That means they're staying up, not trying to hit in the legs."That means they're staying high, they're not digging in the ground trying to make tackles at the shoestring."In the 49ers' 27-20 defeat of the Giants at Candlestick Park on Nov. 13, Jacobs rushed for a game-high 55 yards on 18 carries.The 49ers limited the Saints to 37 yards rushing last week, with New Orleans becoming decidedly one-dimensional after Thomas was knocked out and lost a fumble at the San Francisco 2-yard line."(Knocking players out is) not really a thing they do on purpose," Jacobs said. "Guys are out there playing off instincts. It just so happens it went that way. And everyone tries to set a tone for their team -- offense, defense, it doesn't matter. It's a bunch of guys playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl. (The 49ers) went out there and played lights out. I'm looking forward to that challenge this week."