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The change in the San Francisco 49ers’ attitude this season might be most evident when the defensive backs gather in a team meeting room each week to watch the highlight video from the previous game.
Secondary coach Ed Donatell counts and compares the number of “domination hits” in a fierce and friendly competition among players.
The challenge is for each to deliver at least one crushing—but legal—blow on an opponent every game.
The hard-hitting, ball-hawking secondary has created its share of imposing images for San Francisco this season, part of a defense that has carried the franchise back to the NFC championship for the first time in 14 years to face the New York Giants on Sunday at Candlestick Park.
Now the 49ers' defensive backfield, once considered a weak spot on the defense, is being looked at one of the advantages San Francisco will have against the Giants.
And the team will need all its defensive backs playing at the top of their game Sunday against a Giants' receiving corps that has been playing incredibly well and receiving national accolades.