Why Eli Manning nearly missed Giants' 2012 NFC Championship win over 49ers


Why Eli Manning nearly missed Giants' 2012 NFC Championship win over 49ers

We now know the Rams and the Patriots will square off in Super Bowl LIII, but New England's opponent in Super Bowl XLVI seven years ago could have been much different. 

Manning led the Giants to a 20-17 overtime win over the 49ers in the NFC Championship on Jan. 22, 2012, at Candlestick Park. He completed 32 of 58 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns. 

But he nearly missed the game.

David Carr, Manning's backup quarterback that season in New York, revealed Sunday that Eli missed multiple practices leading up to the game because of the flu. 

"We roll into Friday, he's still sick -- can't practice. He's literally in the training room getting IVs all day," Carr said. "Has the flu for like four straight days. So I practice on Friday with the team. So now Eli hasn't had any practice time, I've taken all the reps for the NFC Championship Game.

"He shows up on Saturday, looks fine, he goes through the walk-through, goes to the game. Everything is normal. No one knew. He didn't practice all week."

Oh, what could have been.

Manning threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns in the 2011 regular season. Carr, on the other hand, didn't attempt a single pass.

Two weeks later, Manning led the Giants to a 21-17 Super Bowl win over the Patriots.

Watch incredible George Kittle block at Iowa before he was 49ers star

Watch incredible George Kittle block at Iowa before he was 49ers star

49ers tight end George Kittle is a great blocker. That’s it, that’s the article.

OK not quite, but it could be. And only because there’s evidence to prove it, both in stat form and this clip from when he was with Iowa:


He earned stellar marks from Pro Football Focus in a game last season with an overall 72.9 grade with a 78.1 run-blocking grade. So despite someone, in particular, saying he's "not really a blocker," the evidence proves that. 

This is only a fraction of why he’s about to be the highest-paid tight end in the history of the NFL. He’s a big part of the 49ers’ success and the people in charge of signing the checks made it very clear he isn’t going anywhere. 

After being a fifth-round draft pick in 2017, the two-time Pro Bowler proved he was a major steal. 

[RELATED: Jimmy Garoppolo NFL's most accurate QB with deep passes in 2019]

His 2,945 receiving yards since then are the most by a tight end during his first three NFL seasons … ever and set the single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end in 2018 with 1,377. His running game is also strong, and not just when he's running dudes off the field. 

And he’s come into the game during the perfect time with the tight end position gaining respect. 

It’s nice to see he’s always been this way.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

NFL rumors: Full-squad minicamps could be held in mid- or late June

NFL rumors: Full-squad minicamps could be held in mid- or late June

The NFL is inching toward normalcy as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

That normalcy could first come in the form of fully operational minicamps which could be held in mid- or late June, Yahoo! Sports' Charles Robinson reported Tuesday.

A source told Robinson that NFL coaches could return to the team facilities as early as next week, and that if the COVID-19 data permits, players could follow for minicamps either on June 15 or June 27. But at least one major hurdle still remains, with a league source telling Robinson that California Governor Gavin Newsom might be the one person standing in the way of a fully operational and on-time minicamp.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Newsom has said that professional sports could potentially start to return to California without fans in early June if the trend lines hold. If Newsom were to give the go-ahead of minicamps without fans, then the NFL could be fully on schedule with minicamps before setting the dates for training camp.

“If California is open for [team] operations soon, minicamps can still happen in June — probably late June, I’d think — but maybe even mid-June,” the league source told Robinson.

The 49ers had been looking at possibly holding their training camp outside of California due to the state's ongoing lockdown. Newsom has said he doesn't "anticipate" normal NFL games returning to California this year, but it appears he's willing to give fan-less games a chance as long as the data says it's safe and the leagues have a plan to keep the players and employees safe.

[RELATED: Nine 49ers facing make-or-break season in 2020]

The shelter-in-place order and social distancing have helped to flatten the curve in California. As of Tuesday, the state had 94,558 confirmed cases and 3,795 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and state and local government reporting.

Sports will start to come back in the coming months and it could begin with 49ers minicamp in mid-to-late June. But only if the data and public health officials deem it to be a safe and prudent decision.