Super Bowl XLVII: Sizing up Ravens vs. 49ers

Super Bowl XLVII: Sizing up Ravens vs. 49ers
January 20, 2013, 8:45 pm
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Boldin: 'We thought the proper way was to come back here and to win at Foxborough.'

Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens-49ers

On TV: Feb. 3 at Super Dome, 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Coaches: Ravens -– John Harbaugh (54-26, 8-4 in playoffs); 49ers –- Jim Harbaugh (24-8, 3-1 in playoffs).

Paths to Super Bowl: Ravens (13-6) –- Beat Indianapolis Colts 24-9 in wild-card game; won at Denver Broncos 38-35 double OT in divisional playoff game; won at New England Patriots 28-13 in AFC title game.  49ers (13-4-1) –- Beat Green Bay Packers 45-31 in divisional playoff game; won at Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in NFC title game.

Series history: Ravens lead 3-1.

Last meeting: 49ers –- The Ravens won 16-6 at home on Nov. 24, 2011, in the first meeting between the Harbaugh brothers. It was a field-goal festival until the fourth quarter when Dennis Pitta caught an 8-yard pass from Flacco. K Billy Cundiff, cut by the Ravens before the season and just this past week by San Francisco, made all three field-goal attempts. Baltimore’s defense was dominant, getting 9 sacks of then-starting QB Alex Smith who failed to generate a TD drive and only threw for 140 yards. RB Frank Gore was held to 39 yards rushing.

Game-breakers: Ravens –- Flacco: Hasn't thrown an interception in the postseason. The Ravens are 42-5 when he doesn't throw a pick; RB Ray Rice: Overcome 2 fumbles in wild-card playoffs and is a threat catching out of the backfield; WR Torrey Smith: Flacco’s best burner noted for big-play ability; WR Anquan Boldin: Flacco’s best possession receiver who will make the most difficult catches in traffic and absorb big hits; TE Dennis Pitta: At 6-4, big target with sure hands. Feasts on zone coverage underneath; KR Jacoby Jones: Occasionally makes plays as a receiver such as his 70-yard game-tying catch in Denver to force OT, but since being installed as the starter on special teams in Week 7, has three TDs that earned him his first Pro Bowl selection; CB Corey Graham: Has emerged as a quality starter, two INTs in the postseason, since he was elevated to the starting lineup in Week 10.

49ers –- QB Colin Kaepernick: Can throw effectively, but where he changes the game is with his ability to run. Made eight regular season starts with 1,814 yards in the air and 415 rushing; WR Michael Crabtree: Blossomed in his 4th season with Kaepernick in the lineup as he reached 1,000 yards receiving for the first time and a career-high 85 catches; RB Frank Gore: Rushed for 1,214 yards and 8 TDs. Combined with Kaepernick, difficult to stop both; LB Aldon Smith: Had 19.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one INT; CB Carlos Rogers –- Excellent in 1 on 1 coverage.

Primary key to victory: Contain Kaepernick and make him a pocket passer. The Ravens have experience this season with running QBs. They gave up a season-high nine plays of 20-yards or more to Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles in a 24-23 loss in Week 2. They faced the read-option of the Washington Redskins, falling 31-28 in overtime to Robert Griffin III, and allowed seven plays of 20 yards or more. The defense did a good job of containing Griffin as he gained just 34 yards on the ground and didn’t score a TD with his feet. Griffin gained 815 yards and 7 TDs rushing for the season. Vick had 10 rushes for 34 yards and one TD.

Best storyline: When the Harbaughs met in the regular season last year, it marked the first time brothers were opposing head coaches in an NFL game. Now in the Super Bowl is even more unprecedented. Jim is in his 2nd season as coach while this is John’s 5th.