The New York Giants are heading out to California this weekend to take on a familiar foe in the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are not just familiar in the sense that the Giants played them twice last season, including a 20-17 victory in the NFC Championship game, but because this offseason, two key members of Big Blue's Super Bowl winning squad packed their bags and took off to the Bay Area. Needless to say, it will feel unnatural to watch Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs suited up in red and gold on the opposing sideline on Sunday.
Despite reports from Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara that Manningham was "already talking" about this week's matchup, Manningham does not seem to be carrying a public grudge against his old teammates. The Super Bowl XLVI hero expects his former team to be come ready to play this weekend.
"That's a player's dream, to beat his old team.'' Manningham said. "They're going to be ready, I know how they roll over there so I know we're gonna be ready.''
So far through 2012, Manningham has 19 receptions for 186 yards, including a touchdown last weekend against the Buffalo Bills. He will surely look to take advantage of an injured, inexperienced Giants secondary that will take the field on Sunday.
While the Giants could have certainly used Manningham's veteran presence in the midst of injuries to Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden at the wide receiver position, Big Blue's former number 82 seems to be enjoying life out in San Francisco.
"I couldn't ask for no better team, no better teammates,'' Manningham said. "Everybody down here is real cool and down to earth.''
The Giants are going to have their hands full on Sunday. They are playing the number one rushing offense in the league, as well as a veteran wide receiver core with a banged up secondary. However, this is going to be an intense matchup between two teams with a lot to prove. The 49ers obviously want to avenge their loss in last seasons NFC Championship game, while the Giants want to avoid falling back to .500 on the season.
With that, Mario Manningham will be playing with a little extra motivation on Sunday. He knows how intense this rivalry is, and how hard fought last season's NFC Championship game was. Although he had a fantastic career in New York, he's on the other side of the ball now. The Giants defense is going to come after him at full force, and it should be interesting to see who comes out on top.
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