The first time New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz faced the San Francisco 49ers, on Nov. 13 at Candlestick Park, he had no problem getting open. That was the easy part. The hard part was catching Eli Manning’s passes once he found himself all alone in space.
Cruz had very solid numbers against the Niners — 6 receptions, 84 yards — but he also had two key drops, one of them squandering what probably should’ve been a long touchdown.
Even though Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks both are great receivers and scored touchdowns against the 49ers a couple months ago, Cruz was the guy who gave Carlos Rogers fits at times — even though Rogers still managed to pick off Eli Manning twice.
Cruz also finished third in the NFL in receiving yards (1,536) during the regular season behind Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker, and caught 9 TD passes. And that’s after going reception-free against the Redskins in Week 1 and catching 2 passes for 17 yards in Week 2 against the Rams.
In other words, Cruz already had the 49ers’ attention as they prepare for the NFC Championship Game.
That wasn’t enough for Cruz, as he said this on Monday (via NY Daily News):
Considering the Saints-Giants game was lopsided and the 49ers-Giants game came down to the final minute, Cruz was asked Monday if the Giants are better off that the Niners beat New Orleans.
“I guess so,” he said. “Just coming from our schedule and how it turned out and how we played against New Orleans and how we played against San Fran, it definitely works out in our favor a little bit that we’re able to get San Fran as opposed to New Orleans, just because of how we feel about them and we understand we have a good chance of winning that game.”
Cruz was not being disrespectful to the 49ers. He was expressing how the Giants felt about the potential of having to go back to New Orleans, where the Saints turn games into track meets.
First, a round of applause for the NYDN. “Heyyyy, even though we’re running this quote, Cruz only said what he said because the Saints routed the Giants and New York lost a much closer game in San Francisco. HE WAS NOT BEING DISRESPECTFUL TO THE 49ERS, WE SWEAR!!!!!”
They must have to apologize for the Giants constantly running their mouths all the time…
“Brandon Jacobs was not making fun of Rex Ryan when he called him “fat boy.” He was just worried about how Ryan’s morbid obesity could raise the coach’s chances of contracting Type 2 diabetes or suffering from heart disease, possibly shortening the his lifespan. BRANDON JACOBS IS A SAINT.”
Second, I can’t tell you how upset I am that I left Cruz’s name out of my poll question this week:
Which New York Giant will say something stupid about the 49ers first?
- Brandon Jacobs
- Justin Tuck
- Jason Pierre-Paul
- Eli Manning
I knew I was missing a Giant or two.
Cruz’s comments have surely been digested by Jim Harbaugh and dispersed throughout the 49ers’ locker room. Forget the fact that Cruz dropped a double “San Fran.” It’s pretty amazing that Cruz would tell the press that the Giants wouldn’t like their chances in New Orleans but feel good about their chances of winning in San Francisco.
Maybe the Giants feel like the 49ers have been running their mouths…
Vernon Davis gleefully told the Fox halftime crew that he was rooting for the Giants to prevail in Lambeau. But that wasn’t a statement on who he’d rather play, rather where. And after witnessing the unbelievable crowd on Saturday firsthand, I don’t blame Davis for preferring to stay home and play in Candlestick (where it should also be at least 20 degrees warmer than in Green Bay).
However, Giants safety Antrel Rolle seemed to take offense, at least a little bit (again, via NYDN):
When 49ers tight end Vernon Davis was watching the Giants-Packers game on Sunday, he admitted he “prayed” for the Giants to win, so the NFC Championship Game would be played in San Francisco.
His prayers were obviously answered. But Antrel Rolle warned Davis that might not be a good thing for his team.
“They better be careful what they ask for,” Rolle said. “Because their wish has been granted.”
During his weekly paid spot on WFAN Rolle said, “I can only hope he was saying that because they wanted to get a home game,” and that did appear to be the case. Davis wasn’t the only one praying for a specific outcome last weekend either. On Monday, Giants receiver Victor Cruz admitted that San Francisco’s win over the New Orleans Saints “definitely works out in our favor a little bit.”
The Giants are the ones used to doing all the talking (I didn’t include Rolle in the poll either!), so it surely bothered them when Davis’ comments (innocuous as they were) made the rounds.
Harbaugh has been known to hold a grudge or two (Jim Schwartz is jumping up and down in agreement), but less important than Cruz’s comments is the threat he poses downfield. However, if Rogers, Tarell Brown and the rest of the 49ers’ secondary needed any extra motivation to stop Cruz other than the 10 targets he saw the last time these two teams faced, what he said on Monday may suffice.
Update: I forgot about Anthony Davis’ tweet after I saw it on Monday, but David Fucillo, the Lead Editor for Niners Nation (great source for everything 49ers) reminded me…
Fooch also sent me this, which I missed:
Carlos Rogers‘ salsa dance following an interception in the 49ers’ 27-20 win over the Giants on Nov. 13 didn’t sit right with Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who uses the dance to celebrate each time he scores a touchdown.
“It was a little bit of disrespect,” Cruz said when asked on Wednesday. “I understand it was something I do and to do it on me and do it front of our sideline, it was a little disrespectful. But I understand that, it’s all part of the game. Things happen and guys are going to do that. He wasn’t the only one to mock that dance throughout the season.”
Dallas receivers Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson did the move when they scored touchdowns. Rogers did the move following an interception and as an opponent covering Cruz.
In the second quarter of the teams’ game on Nov. 13, Giants quarterback Eli Manning tried to hit Cruz down the field but Rogers jumped in front of Cruz and hauled in the interception. He did the salsa dance near Cruz and in front of the Giants’ bench.
When asked if he owes the Pro Bowl cornerback for his dance, Cruz said that the media can answer that question, but didn’t deny that he has a chance to get some revenge on the cornerback.
“A little bit,” Cruz said.
There’s being a diva, and then there’s getting upset about someone making fun of your little diva dance. The NFL has changed in many ways, but I can’t imagine any 49ers even coming up with their own salsa dance, let alone getting upset when it’s thrown back in their faces.