SANTA CLARA -- Strip away the varnish, and the 49ers are simply preparing for Game No. 6 this regular season.
But it's not that simple, not when the New York Giants are coming back to Candlestick Park, site of their 20-17 overtime win in last season's NFC Championship game.
No one knows this more than Kyle Williams, who has shown accountability and resiliency since botching two punt returns in that NFC final, the second of which led to the winning field goal.
"Of course, after what happened last year, I want to get back at these guys," Williams said Tuesday. "It's nothing other than any other team that beat us last year."
The Giants, however, are an unmistakable foe.
"Obviously with them ending our season a game early, there's extra motivation there," general manager Trent Baalke said Monday on 95.7-FM The Game. "But it's the next game on the schedule. There's not one game we go into that we don't want to win."
The 49ers (4-1) are coming off back-to-back blowout victories: 34-0 at the New York Jets and 45-3 Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.
The Giants are off to a 3-2 start, as was the case last season before they finished hot, slipped past the 49ers and won Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots.
"This is the team that knocked us out of going to the show," cornerback Carlos Rogers said. "These are the defending champions. We want to perform against these guys because of that."
"We look at
Williams plans to take the same confident approach into Sunday's game as he has the 49ers' previous five. Used primarily from the slot in three-receiver sets, Williams has tallied four receptions for 66 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown that launched Sunday's rout.
On special teams, Williams filled in as the punt returner for the first three games while Ted Ginn Jr. recovered from an ankle injury, and Williams has replaced Kendall Hunter on kickoff returns the past 2½ games. Williams is averaging 35.7 yards per kickoff return, including a 94-yard effort against Minnesota.
Some Giants said after last season's NFC final that they knew Williams could be susceptible to big hits because of a Dec. 24 concussion. Williams said Tuesday he never felt targeted in that way, adding: "It sounds stupid. We're playing football, and everyone is trying to get to the ball."
Coach Jim Harbaugh, a staunch supporter of Williams, despises any rehash of Williams' role in the NFC Championship game. On his KNBR 680-AM segment Tuesday, Harbaugh was asked about Williams' mindset and cut off the question. Harbaugh then continued to praise Williams' contributions, not only this season but throughout his three-year 49ers career.
Inside the locker room, a chorus of 49ers chimed in about moving on from last season's ending, saying the Giants were the better team "that day" and that "it's a new year."
"It's just another notch on the belt you have to get," tight end Delanie Walker said of Sunday's game.
Added cornerback Tarell Brown: "We don't live in the past. They did a great job beating us and won the Super Bowl."