QB JOE MONTANA: As magnificent as he seems to play game after game in the regular season, Montana somehow moves up a notch in postseason. As a playoff starter, he is 14-4. In his last six playoff games, he has completed 78.6 percent of his passes with only one interception. In 7-3 win over Giants during the regular season, he was limited to season-worst 12 completions in 29 attempts for 152 yards, but he still pierced the defensive struggle with game's lone TD pass (to John Taylor). RB ROGER CRAIG: Midseason knee injury limited effectiveness of player who has been one of NFL's top all-around backs. He rushed for only 3.1 yards per carry and caught only 25 passes. But after averaging 296 yards passing and 91 rushing in their first 10 games, 49ers averaged 203 passing and 135 rushing in their last seven and seemed determined to get more balance. It would not be surprising from outset today to see San Francisco try to reestablish Craig as a main cog. WR JOHN TAYLOR: Giants have been intent in recent meetings not to let Jerry Rice (NFL bests of 100 catches, 1,502 yards) beat them, and despite emerging as one of league's top receivers, Taylor again will not draw the attention that Rice will today. New York held Rice to one catch in earlier 49ers win; Taylor had three, including 23-yard game-winning TD. FS RONNIE LOTT: Simply the best at his position in the NFL, despite an endless series of nagging injuries. With RB Rodney Hampton out for Giants, his ability to come up and stuff outside run will not be as important as in past, but he will play key role in helping LCB Darryl Pollard cover New York deep threats Stephen Baker (20.8 yards per catch) and Mark Ingram (19.2). LOLB CHARLES HALEY: He had conference-high 16 sacks and has become one of league's top pass rushers. 49ers want to pressure QB Jeff Hostetler into mistakes and break down Giants' offense, so they are likely to come with heavy rush early. If Haley can be effective against RT Doug Riesenberg, that could force Giants to give more blocking responsibility to TE Mark Bavaro, limiting him as a receiver. NT MICHAEL CARTER: He is one of the best at clogging the middle, and the role he plays today will be especially important. Hampton's absence takes away Giants' ability to run outside. If Carter can handle Pro Bowl C Bart Oates, 49ers could shut down New York running game by stopping Ottis Anderson inside. QB JEFF HOSTETLER: He is 5-0 as a starter (3-0 this season), is mobile and seems to make good decisions under pressure. He was 10 of 17 for 112 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 31-3 victory over Bears, but his most dangerous skill is his ability to scramble. He ran six times for 43 yards against Bears; five went for first downs (and one for touchdown). RB OTTIS ANDERSON: Eighth on all-time rushing list with 10,101 yards and seventh all-time with 81 rushing touchdowns, Anderson, 34, gives Giants a back who can make big play in short yardage and near goal line. But with Hampton (broken leg) out, Anderson will get most of responsibility and must come through to help take pressure off Hostetler. LT JOHN ELLIOTT: At 6 feet 7, 305 pounds, Elliott outweighs 49ers' RDE Kevin Fagan by 45 pounds. Their matchup should be one of keys today as Giants must control pass rush of Fagan (9 1/2 sacks). Giants are likely to run through the left side in short-yardage situations behind LG William Roberts and Elliott. Key to success will be Elliott's ability to neutralize Fagan. In eight games Elliott missed this season with broken leg, Giants rushed for average of 111.8 yards. In five games since his return, they have averaged 168.4. LCB MARK COLLINS: New York's success in limiting Jerry Rice to one catch for 13 yards in meeting earlier was a result of nickel defense it used most of the time, with Collins bumping Rice at line. ROLB LAWRENCE TAYLOR: His sacks were down (10 1/2), but Taylor, again a Pro Bowler, remains the most important factor in New York's defense and still possesses ability to take control of a game. Midseason absence of LOLB Carl Banks (broken wrist) had some effect on Taylor because teams were able to devote more attention to him. But Banks returned late in season and Taylor finished with 4 1/2 sacks in last four games. A strong performance by Taylor opens more opportunities for Pro Bowl RILB Pepper Johnson to apply pressure from inside. RDE LEONARD MARSHALL: Veteran played primarily in passing situations this season, but he could have key role against 49ers' pass-oriented scheme. He will go against LT Bubba Paris, who is 6-6, 306 pounds (officially, but estimates range 50 pounds higher) and had trouble against speedy defensive ends.