Editor's Note: This is the fifth part in a series that spotlights seven 49ers-Ravens matchups to watch in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday in New Orleans.
49ers cornerbacks vs. Ravens wide receivers
Tale of the tape
Carlos Rogers (22): 6-foot, 192 pounds, eighth season, Auburn
Tarell Brown (25): 5-foot-10, 193 pounds, sixth season, Texas
J. Michael's take:
Smith struggled in the last seven games of the season with one TD catch. He has responded in the postseason with nine receptions for 198 yards and two TDs. Boldin has been steady as a possession receiver, making the difficult grabs in traffic. He leads with 16 catches for 276 yards.
Boldin also led the Ravens with 65 catches and 921 yards in the regular season. He also had four TDs. Smith finished with 49 for 855 and a team-high eight TDs. The play-calling of Jim Caldwell can't be overlooked. He opened up the offense in the AFC title game after the Ravens scored just 7 points in the first half by spreading out the Patriots. Smith is running underneath more, catching the ball in space and creating bigger plays with his world-class speed rather than just low percentage throws on go-routes.
"To be honest with you, they remind me of our defense a lot. Just with the talent that we have, how physical they are, how fast they play," Boldin said. "The key for us is just doing what we normally do. I think there will be situations where we see man coverage. I think us as a receiver corps, we definitely welcome man coverage because we feel like if you beat one guy there’s a lot of room to run.”
To Smith's chagrin, he has had issues with press coverage. But he made Pro Bowl CB Champ Bailey pay for it in Denver. It's a high-risk strategy but if its successful the Ravens will have difficulty without their deep threat.
"You've got one that's got track speed that will take the top off your defense, so he's going to draw some attention," 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers said of Smith, a second-year player.
"And Anquan (Boldin) is a very physical guy. He doesn't go deep as much as Torrey, but he's got the ability to."
The 49ers have played sound pass defense for most of the season. When cornerback Tarell Brown missed an assignment on the first drive against the Falcons last week, it marked the first time the 49ers have surrendered a touchdown pass of 40 yards or more for the first time this season.
Rogers, Brown and third cornerback Chris Culliver typically make teams work to get down the field. They will play off in coverage and allow some plays to be made underneath. That could allow Boldin to get his quota of catches, while Smith always looks for an opportunity to get deep.
In three playoff games, Boldin has 16 receptions for 276 yards and three touchdowns, while Smith is averaging 22.0 yards a receiver -- nine catches for 198 yards and two touchdown.