|According to 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, Giants QB Eli Manning is magician. (US Presswire)|
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh has often referred to how the highest praise he can give a player is to simply refer to them as "a football player."
“He's a magician. That's what he is," Harbaugh said. "And he's a football player."
Manning's propensity for the big play is something the 49ers are weary of. He ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (1,579) and despite having the third-most pass attempts in the league (197), he has been sacked just four times.
His act may not require a white tiger, but it has been impressive nonetheless.
"Definitely, just watch the film," S Dashon Goldson said. "He's moving back there -- he's not staying in one spot. He can pull a rabbit out of a hat at any time."
The 49ers became painfully aware of that in the NFC Championship when Manning hit current 49er Mario Manningham on a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Giants up 17-14 with 8 minutes, 34 seconds left in regulation. [scroll down to see the play]
LB Patrick Willis wasn't among the surprised, he'd seen it from Manning before. In Willis' true freshman season at Ole Miss, Manning was in his final year with the Rebels before he would become the NFL Draft's No. 1 overall pick.
Until last year's breakout season for the 49ers, that Ole Miss team represented the last winning team Willis was a part of.
"(Manning) made it look almost easy," Willis said. "I didn't see adverse times that much. Also, back then I didn't know what to look for, I was just happy to be winning."
Willis is happy to be winning again
Vernon Davis admits idolizing T.O. was wrong: The team-first attitude that permeates the 49ers' locker room is hard to miss. The next player who takes credit in front of a teammate might be the first.
Davis said that hasn't always been the case.
"Since I've been here, we really haven't had a selfish guy, besides myself," Davis said.
"At one point, I was selfish, and I admit it," Davis said. "I was and that's because I was young, and I didn't know. I was trying to find myself, just trying to figure it out. I looked up to guys like Terrell Owens, and other guys in the league. And I thought that this was what it was about, but it wasn't."
Smith's finger alright: QB Alex Smith sprained the middle finger on his throwing hand on his last play against Buffalo on Sunday, but the injury is not expected to affect Smith moving forward.
“Doing alright," Smith said. "Yeah, I think it'll be fine.”
The injury has not prevented Smith, who leads the NFL in quarterback rating (108.7), from throwing in practice. But he was listed on the team's injury report, albeit as a full participant.
Smith said he could potentially wear tape to support the finger on Sunday.
"Kind of one of those things, I think everyone's kind of had them," Smith said. "The more you move them and keep them going the better they get.”
49ers opening first team store: The 49ers will hold the grand opening for their first-ever team apparel store in Palo Alto on Saturday. It comes less than a month after the organization debuted a mobile apparel store in San Francisco.
Festivities begin at 10 a.m. at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto.
Eli Manning to Mario Manningham