I just love it when NFL coaches go after each other to the media, it creates an added element to the matchup on the field between the players. Not that this matchup needs any more incentive from the players. The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have never been division rivals, but they developed a playoff rivalry in the 80s and early 90s that has extended to the past decade.
Their 2003 playoff contest was an epic battle that saw the 49ers erase a 38-14 second half deficit. The 2012 NFC Championship was a slug fest that came down to an overtime mistake by the 49ers that propelled the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI. Even the regular season matchup in 2011 came down to the wire, with Justin Smith knocking down a fourth down pass attempt late in the game to seal the victory for the 49ers.
What is my point? This Sunday’s game already has plenty of intrigue, but you can now add a separate element to that.
Jim Harbaugh took exception to Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride‘s comments about Smith. Gilbride has this to say about Smith on Thursday to Giants reporters.
“Smith is a beast on the inside, he’s strong, he does as good a job of grabbing a hold of offensive linemen and allowing those twists to take place. He never gets called for it so he gets away with murder.”
Harbaugh did not like that, and specifically did not like the analogy Gilbride used.
“Kevin Gilbride’s outrageous, irrational statement regarding Justin Smith’s play is, first, an absurd analogy. Second, it is an incendiary comment targeting one of the truly exemplary players in this league. It’s obvious that the Giants coaching staff’s sole purpose is to use their high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating.”
OK. Well, I don’t really know what to say at this point. I mean yeah, maybe Gilbride is trying to influence the officials to some degree, but how much can he really do? Plus, this isn’t the first time someone has accused a 49ers defender of getting away with stuff, and it won’t be the last. This kind of thing happens before important games all the time.
I like the idea of Harbaugh coming to the defense of his player, but saying Gilbride is “[using his] high visibility to both criticize and influence officiating” is a joke. Every team in the NFL is visible.
Should be quite the exciting game come Sunday.