The 49ers surprised the football world by making two fourth-quarter comebacks to defeat the New Orleans Saints, 36-32. This was one of the most exciting games I have ever witnessed and brought back fond memories of the great 49er teams of the 80's and 90's with Joe Montana and Steve Young.
49ers' quarterback Alex Smith proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he could lead the team to victory when all the chips were on the table. Smith has learned his craft well from head coach Jim Harbaugh and the rest of the 49ers' offensive coaches.
Smith's development has been a story of perseverance and intestinal fortitude that nobody would have expected to occur, even a few months ago.
The 49ers will play host to the Giants and Candlestick Park will be rocking. The Giants are playing extremely well and have quarterback Eli Manning playing the best football of his career.
The fact that the 49ers defeated the Giants 27-20 in week 10 of the regular season is of no relevance at this point. Explosive running back Ahmad Bradshaw was out for that game and the Giants were still only about three inches from tying the game, as a long pass just bounced off Mario Manningham's fingertips.
The NFC Championship game will be a test of wills between two of the toughest, hardest hitting defenses in the league. The Giants are on a roll, but so are the 49ers. This game promises to be an epic battle.
Let's take a closer look at the key match-ups that will determine the outcome of this game.