Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, right, talks with quarterback Eli...

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, right, talks with quarterback Eli Manning during the first half at Candlestick Park. The Giants won, 26-3. (Oct. 14, 2012) Credit: AP

The 49ers had a thrilling comeback win a week ago in New Orleans that ended a two-game losing streak, allowed them to avoid falling below .500 and kept them in a strong position for an NFC playoff spot.

Was it the kind of win that can kick-start a winning streak or a title run?

"It was a heck of a win," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "It could be."

Sometimes that's all it takes. One win to make the losing a memory, to right the ills of a team, to change the direction of the season.

The Giants thought they had that kind of win when they beat the Texans in Week 3, the first of three straight. But since then they have lost four in a row.

They again are looking for that win that could change everything from attitude to perception to postseason hopes. And they are trying to do it against the 49ers, a team that might have gotten theirs last week in New Orleans.

"That's what we're all searching for, man," Giants safety Quintin Demps said this past week. "We're scratching and clawing for one win. I think that's going to turn everything around. I was telling my wife that [the other night]. I think we need a win, just one, and I think we can get on a roll."

The difference between them is that for the Giants, this might be their last shot at relevance. Lose this one and it could be another December of meaningless games and job security speculation.

But can one win really make that big of a difference?

"It's certainly better than the alternative," coach Tom Coughlin said. "It would be a tremendous boost for all of us."

Antrel Rolle downplayed the idea that one victory can change everything. Even if they can top the 49ers, the Giants will be 4-6 and trailing two teams in the division with six games to play. A win Sunday just points the team down the right path. They still have to make the journey.

"We all know one win doesn't really do too much in this league," he said. "We do take it one game at a time. One will obviously be heading in the right direction, and just take it from there."

That's what they did in 2011 when they lost four straight games, the fourth one coming to the defending Super Bowl champions (just as their fourth straight loss last Sunday did). Then they won three of their last four regular-season games to take the division, make the playoffs and eventually claim a fourth Super Bowl title.

None of that would have occurred, obviously, without the first win.

"That was definitely the start of our momentum," fullback Henry Hynoski, a rookie on that championship team, said of the win over the Cowboys in 2011. "You just need somewhere to start. You need one game, one big play, one chance or one opportunity to ignite this a little bit here. We still believe we can do this. There's no doubt in our minds we can win some games here and put ourselves in a position to get into the playoffs."

Those 2011 Giants are the only team in NFL history to lose four straight during the regular season and win a Super Bowl.

"Hopefully the same happens this year," Hynoski said. "Hopefully it will be a repeat of that year. We certainly don't want to make it five [losses] in a row. We have to start a winning streak."

Like all winning streaks, it will have to start at one.

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