For 49ers fans, their team is taking it rightful place in the NFL and they are certain they are going to be crowned Super Bowl champions, since this is their game, having taken home the hardware five times in five tries. What will it take for San Francisco to tie Pittsburgh for the most Lombardi Trophy’s and beat the 3.5-point spread? Keep reading.
All the talk of Baltimore peaking at the right time is well justified. One of the problems about getting hot, it can go away at anytime. Who wanted to play Seattle in the playoffs? Or didn’t Denver seem destined to be the AFC representative in the Crescent City this weekend? And if we change sports, what about Butler’s shooting exhibition in the championship game against Connecticut!
That’s the funny thing about getting scalding hot; the temperature can decrease as quickly as it rose.
San Francisco can cool off a red-hot Joe Flacco by bring pressure from the edges. Though the Ravens have only allowed four sacks in the playoffs this team has the weaponry to increase those numbers quickly. Aldon and Justin Smith have looked wore down and been injured and have not been as effective rushing the passer. The two-week break should refresh them and these high-motor individuals have not only the speed, but the size to bull-rush against tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher. Flacco has never had a great feel for the rush, especially from the blind side where he can be stripped of the ball.
Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has to dictate where he wants Flacco to throw the ball. The 6’6 former Delaware product might be the most accurate-tosser of the football down the field to the right outside the numbers. His biggest weakness is when he has to throw to his left, where his completion percentage and yards per throw fall precipitously. San Francisco has to rotate its safeties to the middle and right of the field.
Though Bolden is a chains-mover, he no longer has the speed to separate and can be bothered by tight coverage. If Flacco wants to settle for underneath throws, San Fran ranked seventh in defending passes to tight ends this year, and eighth against running backs in the NFL.
Baltimore’s offensive line has been a big story in the postseason, but Patrick Willis and Novarro Bowman are the best pair of linebackers in the NFL. These two seldom get caught up in the tow of line play and are skilled in fighting blocks on runs and making tackles. If San Francisco can take away the run from the Ravens, they are that much closer to their goal.
No question Colin Kaepernick is the biggest wild card in the Big Game. He’s not shown an inclination toward any situation being too big and his demeanor according to teammates is he is one of the calmest players they have played with. The Ravens will present challenges to him by disguising various looks designed to cause indecision, yet one trait he’s shown is if me makes a poor choice, he immediately comprehends what occurred and is thoughtfully prepared for the next time he sees it.
Coach Jim Harbaugh in his brief major college and NFL career as a head coach has brought titillating wrinkles to games on the offensive side to throw opponents off. Harbaugh/West is on record saying he’s only shown about 20 percent of the read option offense and assuredly he will have the courage to use a great deal more to help demoralize Baltimore. While it is true the Ravens have forced eight turnovers since the regular season concluded, they have permitted 128.3 yards per game on the ground and the favorite has big play potential to bust plays here.
Baltimore’s pass rush has been largely ineffective in creating sacks with Terrell Suggs out most of the year and is trying to return to his prior levels. Suggs has been occasionally better as his health has improved, with Paul Kruger being the only other real pass rusher. San Francisco can scheme Kruger’s effectiveness by lining up a certain way, which they prefer. According to Pro Football Focus, when opposing teams use three or more receiver sets, Kruger is on the field 95.1 percent of the time. However, when opponents use a more traditional two-receiver set or less, his participation drops to 56.5 percent. Since Kaepernick has taken the starting job, the 49ers have used three or more receiver sets only 16.5 percent of the time.
San Francisco’s passing offense may not be as dynamic as their counterparts, yet it has been no less effective in setting up or creating touchdowns. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis are exceptional after the catch and turn ordinary plays into big-gainers. Randy Moss is not the same receiver which gave him permission to anoint himself as the “best ever” this week, yet he continually make a few big plays per game that matter. In the Niners last three contests; they have averaged 15.1 yards per completion.
If the 49ers play their game and do not commit turnovers, they move to 6-0 in Super Bowls and beat the oddsmaker also.