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Player's loss 'compromised' defense

  • Dashon Goldson injures Tarell Brown after the two collided trying to intercept a pass in the 3rd quarter. San Francisco 49ers lost to the New York Giants, 20-17, on Sunday, January 22, 2012.

SAN FRANCISCO — Against the Saints a week earlier, safety Donte Whitner set the tone by knocking out running back Pierre Thomas with a thunderous hit that jarred the ball loose and ended a scoring threat.

Against the Giants, the biggest hit by a 49ers safety had a much less advantageous result.

Late in the third quarter, New York quarterback Eli Manning threw behind Hakeem Nicks on a third-and-5 play, and safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Tarell Brown both went for the interception. Either could have made the play. Instead, they collided hard and Brown left the game with an apparent concussion.

NFC Championship Game

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With Brown out, nickel back Chris Culliver moved into an every-down cornerback position, and second-year man Tramaine Brock became the nickel back. It mattered when Manning beat Brock with a scoring strike to Mario Manningham that gave the Giants a 17-14 lead.

"It compromised us," Whitner said of the injury. "T-Brown is a guy that we look forward to being out there. He's been out there all year. So we had to bring some young guys in, and we had to mix and match some coverages. But they came in and did a pretty good job."

WALKER PLAYS EARLY AND OFTEN

The smart money said Delanie Walker would play against the Giants. But no one could have guessed the speedy tight end would see as much action as he did — the vast majority of plays on offense.

Walker broke his jaw in two places — on the left side of his chin, and just under his left ear — in Week 16 when Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill inadvertently kneed him in the face on a running play at Seattle. Doctors inserted wires in the upper and lower jaw and connected them with rubber bands to stabilize the area; they didn't remove the wires until last Monday.

Walker got his facemask tugged by a Giants defender on one play, but ultimately emerged more or less unscathed. He caught two passes for 36 yards.

"They were coming, but it's part of the game," Walker said. "If they're gonna take a shot, they're gonna take a shot. We're playing football. I had to hit them before they hit me, and the outcome was good. The jaw felt fine. Just didn't come away with the W."


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