By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens will face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. Here’s the scouting report:
San Francisco 49ers: (13-4-1) NFC Champions
Similar to Baltimore, San Francisco has built a strong reputation of being a defensive team. But with the emergence of Colin Kaepernick, the perception has changed. The 49ers incorporate the pistol formation in their gameplan on a weekly basis and opposing teams are still looking for a way to stop it. That test now falls to the Baltimore Ravens in the biggest stage of them all. The key will be for Baltimore to keep Kaepernick in the pocket at all times. They can’t afford to have him running all over the field. San Francisco makes a living on having the opposing defense make split second decisions. If one player on the Baltimore roster thinks the play is a run when it’s really a pass, the 49ers will make the entire defense pay.
That style of play makes Frank Gore even more dangerous. Gore was a lethal runner prior to the incorporation of the pistol read option. With this new philosophy, Gore has the opportunity to slip by defenders that suspect Kaepernick is keeping the football. The whole process can be extremely frustrating for defenses. Baltimore will need to play football as a unit in order to combat this offense. Communication will be extremely important.
Colin Kaepernick is getting the majority of the attention leading up to Sunday’s game, but it wouldn’t be wise to forget about this vaunted defense. Led by Patrick Willis, this team is a younger version of the Ravens squad. Baltimore may boast more playmakers, but the 49ers defense has played dominant football the entire season. Similar to Baltimore, the 49ers like to play fast and physical. For the Ravens to combat that, they’ll need to do a great job of executing draws and screens to keep the defense on their heels. The Ravens will also need to stay with the running game. The 49ers will do their best to keep Ray Rice out of the game. Both Pierce and Rice will have to settle for 3 or 4 yard carries for the majority of the game. Carries will dictate the effectiveness of the offense – not yards.
Though the 49ers defense is as stout as they come, they are susceptible to giving up big plays. It works in Baltimore’s favor that they possess a big play quarterback in Joe Flacco. The offensive line will face one of their toughest challenges when going up against this front seven. If they can give Flacco time in the pocket, he’ll make a few big plays down field. It could be the difference in this contest.
For the first time in NFL history, two sibling coaches will face off against each other in the Super Bowl. The two have coaches against each other only once as Baltimore came out on top 16-6. Though it’s only been a year, these two teams are completely different; the 49ers and Ravens have a record of 6-0 in the Super Bowl with San Francisco having an astonishing 5-0 on the big stage.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.