San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Jim Burt wasn't shy yesterday about defending himself or firing back at his former New York teammates about his controversial hit on Giants quarterback Jeff Hostetler during Sunday's NFC championship game.

Burt challenged Giants players critical of him to a confrontation at his New Jersey home, near Giants Stadium. He added that he felt New York defenders were purposefully trying to injure the knee of all-pro quarterback Joe Montana, also hurt as the 49ers fell, 15-13.

Burt, who played for the Giants during 1981-86, didn't talk immediately after the game about his hit on Hostetler, saving his comments for yesterday as he cleaned out his locker at the 49ers' training complex.

In the fourth quarter the 270-pounder came flying up the middle -- apparently pushed -- his body low to the ground. He crashed into the left leg of Hostetler, and in trying to twist away from the hit Hostetler hyperextended the knee. Hostetler returned on the next offensive series and led the Giants to their Super Bowl berth opposite the Buffalo Bills.

During and after the game, Giants players complained that Burt's tackle was a cheap shot. Burt said Giants Coach Bill Parcells and linebacker Lawrence Taylor yelled obscenities at him from the sideline. After the game Taylor said: "We know the way Burt plays. He tends to duck down and go for the knees and we feel that's what he did to Hoss."

New York defensive lineman Leonard Marshall said, "He really went after Jeff to hurt him."

Yesterday Burt was livid about the accusations.

"I live in New Jersey," he said. "They know where I live. I live a half-hour from {Giants Stadium}. One by one they can come to my house."

Burt was then asked if he was bitter. He responded: "Absolutely. Especially with that kid {Taylor}. I helped him a lot when I was there.

"When you come up the middle it's stupid not to come in low. And I was pushed. There have been times when I've had my knees taken out. You have to come in low."

Hostetler turned out to be less of a casualty than Montana. In the fourth quarter Montana broke his right (throwing) hand and severely bruised his sternum as the result of a hit from behind by Marshall. Montana was dazed for some time after the play.

The 49ers said Montana will have hand surgery this week, with two screws to be inserted.

"They want to talk cheap shots," Burt said about the Giants, "they should talk to Joe . . . see what they were doing to him. There were several plays where they went real low on him. Just ask him."

If this NFL season should be given a title, it would be "The Year of Hurting Quarterbacks -- and Bragging About It." Quarterbacks were dropped with frequency, and some of the people who did the knocking out had no problems talking about it.

Example: On Dec. 23 Dallas's Troy Aikman was put out of action with a separated shoulder when Philadelphia defensive lineman Clyde Simmons wrapped him in a bear hug then slammed him to the turf.

After that game, cornerback Eric Allen said bluntly that the Eagles are experts on the mechanics of knocking a quarterback out of the game.

"Our guys are great at the technique of squeezing guys," Allen said, "then falling on them. That's the way to put a guy out."

Example: After Hostetler left Sunday's game, Taylor yelled at Burt, "That was a cheap shot. If that's the way you want to play, somebody else is going to lose a quarterback too."

And had the 49ers won their game with New York, Montana would have missed the Super Bowl.

About Hostetler's injury, Burt said Giants center Bart Oates came up to him after the game and agreed with him: "Anyone that saw the entire play knows I was pushed," Burt said.

This is not the first time that Burt has sidelined a quarterback in an NFL postseason game. Ironically, in the 1986 playoffs when the Giants beat San Francisco, 49-3, Burt hit Montana in the chest just before halftime. Montana, diagnosed with a concussion, was carried off the field and removed by ambulance.

After that game Burt said: "I think I hit Joe under the chin with my helmet. I think he was trying to dump the ball off so he wouldn't get sacked. It was a good clean hit and he showed a lot of guts standing in there because he knew he was going to get hit . . . but it is an eerie feeling. The whole thing put a damper on the game for me."

"It seems like we just always beat each other up," 49ers safety Ronnie Lott said Sunday.

As for the 49ers, denied their bid to extend their NFL reign for a third year, they aren't used to losing the way they did Sunday; in postseason they have lost only four of their 19 games since 1981.

And rarely, some of the 49ers said, have they been as disappointed about losing as they are now. After all, they led the Giants from early third quarter until the final play, Matt Bahr's fifth field goal.

"The feeling is impossible to describe," said backup quarterback Steve Young. "I'm shocked. I don't think I've experienced feelings like this. . . . We were so close . . . "

Said tight end Jamie Williams: "This demonstrates how tough it is to win as many games as we have. . . . Everyone, every game, was out to get us. I guess someone finally did."