Niners facing a 'new' Giants

A tough San Francisco 49ers team is all that stands between the Giants and the Super Bowl. Matthew Emmons/US Presswire

The 2011 NFL season began with a showdown between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, and, for more than four months, it seemed as if a rematch between the two teams in the playoffs was inevitable. As it turns out, we are getting a rematch in the NFC Championship Game, just not the one everyone was expecting. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the New York Giants 27-20 in Week 10, and now those two teams will meet again with a Super Bowl berth on the line. Can the 49ers find a way to beat New York again? And what has changed for the Giants since that loss in November?

In the first game against New York, 49ers running back Frank Gore was injured early and rushed only six times -- for zero yards. San Francisco finished the game with only 77 yards rushing, but that doesn't mean the 49ers couldn't run with Gore out of the lineup. It just means they didn't rush very often.

Backup runners Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon had only eight carries combined in that game, but they collectively averaged 6.3 yards per rush. And that's not because they ripped off one big play that skewed their average. Five of those eight rushes gained 6 or more yards, including a 17-yard touchdown run by Hunter.