NFL players typically refrain from saying anything about which team they want to play in the next round of the playoffs, instead repeating the same refrain about how they just take the games as they come. But the 49ers aren’t making any secret of the fact that they’re glad to be playing the Giants instead of the Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis said on FOX on Sunday that he was pulling for the Giants to beat the Packers, and 49ers safety Donte Whitner offered similar comments today on NFL Network, saying that he wanted to see the Giants eliminate the Packers from the playoffs.
“I was actually rooting for the New York Giants to win,” Whitner said. “We played them already, we were familiar with them, and we didn’t really want to go up to Green Bay — it’s really cold. It’s better to have a home game. New York won, we have a home game this week and we’re really looking forward to playing them.”
That could be interpreted as bulletin-board material for the Giants, but the reality is anyone would rather have a home game than a road game. And although the 49ers did beat the Giants in the regular season, everyone in San Francisco is saying they’re expecting a tougher game the second time around. San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said at his press conference today that he believes the Giants are a better team — and a healthier team — than they were for their regular season meeting, and Whitner echoed those thoughts.
“The Giants are a different team right now,” Whitner said. “They’re playing really good on defense, Eli Manning is playing his best football right now, and it’s going to be tough.”
Just not as tough as the 49ers think it would have been to go to Green Bay.