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Bonta Hill: Giants-49ers rivalry used to be the stuff of legends, now not so much

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Eli Manning, seen here in 2017, and the New York Giants come to town this week for a flaccid Monday Night Football date with the San Francisco 49ers. (Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News/TNS)

Jimmy Garoppolo helping the San Francisco 49ers win five straight games to end the 2017 regular season wasn’t even his greatest feat.

You may think I’m crazy, but the juice “Jimmy G” brought to the 49ers down the stretch, netted this 2-7 team five primetime games this season.

Of course, they were flexed out of their date with the Los Angeles Rams in Week 7, and will surely be flexed out of their Sunday night battle against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13. But, thanks to Garoppolo, we get to sit back, pour up a nice beverage and watch the 49ers take on the mighty New York Football Giants.

My bad folks, I thought the year was 1989 when Lawrence Taylor and Leonard Marshall were chasing down Joe Montana in NFC Championships (sorry for the bad memories, 49er fans).

So, instead of breaking down how Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard can matriculate the football down the field against Landon Collins and that Giants’ defense, or how DeForest Buckner and Fred Warner will try to contain Odell Beckam Jr. and Saquan Barkley, what I want to do is revisit some of the best memories between the 49ers and Giants.

This used to be one of the best rivalries in pro football as Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick tried to confuse the genius Bill Walsh and his West Coast offense.

As I take you down memory lane, but let me warn you that tears will begin to flow, and fist pumps will be so assertive that a piece of furniture will need to be replaced.

January 20, 1991 — Matt Bahr field goal sends Giants to Super Bowl 25

To this day, this loss haunts me. The 49ers were on their way to winning three straight Super Bowls, and with Jeff Hostetler in at quarterback for Phil Simms, I surely thought the 49ers were headed to Tampa to take on Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills. That, unfortunately, didn’t come to fruition. The Giants played keep away, controlling the clock for 38:59. Marshall knocked Montana out of the game, and as the 49ers were attempting to run the clock out up 13-12, but Roger Craig fumbled, and Bahr nailed his fifth field goal of the day to ruin football season for the 49er empire. This loss stung.

January 5, 2003 — Garcia leads Niners back in Wild, Wild Card game

Looked like another heartbreak at the hands of the New York Giants as they took a commanding 38-14 lead. Kerry Collins looked like Y.A. Tittle. Then, Garcia and Owens went off, leading the 49ers to a victory that came with plenty of controversies. As the Giants botched their field goal attempt, officials missed a blatant pass interference on the 49ers as time expired. Oh well. This game was one for the ages.

January 24, 1987 — Giants Smoked the 49ers 49-3 to Advance to NFC Championship

A little over a month after blowing a 17-0 lead at home in a Monday Night Football to the Giants, the 49ers ventured out to the Meadowlands, one game away from an NFC Championship berth. To say that their trip east was a nightmare would be an understatement. They got crushed, and so did Joe Montana — literally. The Hall of Fame QB left in an ambulance after getting smacked by Jim Burt before halftime. Yes, this one got out of hand in a hurry.

January 15, 1994 — Ricky Watters run wild in Lawrence Taylor’s final game

Although the Niners were beaten badly in the NFC Championship a week later, it was refreshing to see the 49ers get the last laugh in L.T.’s final game as a Giant. After all the years of tormenting the 49ers offense, he couldn’t help the Giants slow down Ricky Watters, who rushed for 118 yards and a playoff-record five touchdowns. The Giants that we knew from the ’80’s and early ’90’s were dead after this bloodbath.

January 22, 2012 — Kyle Williams game, 2011 NFC Championship

Kyle Williams fumbled twice on two punt returns, botched a reverse that would’ve gone for big yardage, and yeah, in Jim Harbaugh’s first season as 49ers’ head coach, the Giants won in overtime to ruin San Francisco’s dream season. Tough to blame one player for a loss, but man, Kyle Williams will surely never forget this day. Brutal.

Those are five memories that stick out, but Jerry Rice’s game-winning 78-yard touchdown catch and run in September of 1988 was legendary, as was the 7-3 win on Dec. 3, 1990 — a week after both teams suffered their first loss of the season. (both teams started the season 10-0).

Let’s hope that one day this “rivalry” becomes hot again. This east-west rivalry was cool. Hopefully, next Monday night will conjure up some of those great memories from back in the day.

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