Jacobs fears no 49er, even Jerry Rice

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He saw the question coming, because surely someone had told him in the previous 24 hours that he'd been called "a little bit soft" by one of the greatest players in NFL history. So when somebody asked New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs about Jerry Rice's comments Thursday, he was ready with his answer.

"I grew up a San Francisco 49er fan," Jacobs said. "I loved Jerry Rice. I still love Jerry Rice. I have nothing negative to say about Jerry Rice. If he feels that way, he feels that way. I wish he was going to try and tackle me, though."

Jacobs isn't the sort of guy who leaves much doubt about his confidence level. No, he's the sort of guy who goes running up to the opposing coach after a Christmas Eve victory and yells, "Time to shut up, fat boy!" So while Jacobs' news conference Thursday was low on controversial sound bites, it was teeming with self-assured responses to questions about the challenges he'll face in Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the 49ers in San Francisco.

Someone asked him, for instance, about the fact that the Niners knocked Saints running back Pierre Thomas out of last Saturday's playoff game and have earned a reputation for doing the same with other backs.

"Knocked out of the game means you got hit in the head," Jacobs said. "I wish like hell one of them would try and hit me in my head, because that means they're staying high instead of going for your legs."

The 49ers are the toughest run defense in the league -- a physical, punishing, super-quick bunch up front. Jacobs had 55 yards on 18 carries in a Week 10 game he had to play without his buddy and fellow running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who is expected to play in this game. So he knows how hard they hit. It's just not something that's bothering him.

"I really don't care how physical they are," Jacobs said. "I'm not afraid of anybody on that team. I'm not afraid of anybody in that organization. I'm ready to play football."