Every defense enters games against the 49ers planning to stop Frank Gore and the running attack. According to offensive coordinator Greg Roman, the Giants took that approach to a new level.
"The Giants took extreme measures, measures that I had rarely seen in the National Football League," Roman said. "... It was pretty much a numbers situation where they really (had) extremely loaded boxes. You've got to go to high school to find that loaded a box."
How extreme? How loaded? Guard Mike Iupati said the Giants stacked nine defenders in the box. Frank Gore said it was 10. "Yeah, man, it was crazy," Gore said. Asked if he'd seen that before, Gore deadpanned, "My whole career." Then he said, "Not like that, man. It was 10 men in the box. They were coming to stop the run."
It helps explain why Gore didn't play but one snap in the second half. He said he suffered a bruised right knee when he was tackled hard in the second quarter by Jason Pierre-Paul. "It hit the ground and hyper extended my leg," he said. 'It kind of shut down my whole leg and couldn't push off like I wanted to."
But he said he could have returned to the game if he had been needed and indicated he wasn't too thrilled with running back coach Tom Rathman's decision to hold him out in the second half. "Coach Rathman kept calling (after the game). I kept ignoring his calls."
Gore said his absence from practice on Wednesday was a coaches' decision as well and was more related to rest than it was his knee injury. He said he expected to practice today* and to play against the Cardinals Sunday.
After Sunday's game, however, the 49ers must fly to Baltimore on Wednesday to play the Ravens the next day. Asked if he thought backup Kendall Hunter could get more work against the Cardinals because of the short recovery week, Gore said he didn't know. "Whatever coach wants to do," he said. "I'm fine with it. But I want to be out there. I want to be out there bad."
The Giants dedication to stopping the run also opened up the passing game, which the 49ers were planning on doing anyway. Said Iupati: "That's why we passed the ball. Too easy."
* Gore indeed was present at practice Thursday.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt tried to create some doubt Wednesday as far as which quarterback -- Kevin Kolb or John Skelton -- would play Sunday. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, however, said today the 49ers were preparing for Skelton, whom Fangio likened to Baltimore's Joe Flacco in terms of stature and arm strength.
"The last couple weeks, he's fallen in love with (wide receiver Larry) Fitzgerald, which is smart on his part," Fangio said.
-- Matt Barrows