5 KEY PLAYERS: SAN FRANCISCO

5 KEY PLAYERS: SAN FRANCISCO
February 2, 2013, 10:45 pm
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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) talks with linebacker Patrick Willis (52) during practice on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in New Orleans. The 49ers are scheduled to play the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game on Feb. 3. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(APWF)

We asked AP pro football writer Barry Wilner to pick five key players for each team in this Super Bowl. You'll want to pay attention to these guys on Sunday.

For the Baltimore Ravens, it's Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger and Cary Williams. Now, for the San Francisco 49ers:

Kaepernick, Crabtree, Gore, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis

-COLIN KAEPERNICK (QB, JERSEY NO. 7): Dynamic player who replaced injured Alex Smith in November and kept the job. Fast with long strides, strong arm, unafraid to throw into tight spots.

-MICHAEL CRABTREE (WR, JERSEY NO. 15): Matured this season and became a true No. 1 receiver. Led team with 85 catches, 1,105 yards and nine TDs. Good after catch, but needs to consider better ball security.

-FRANK GORE (RB, JERSEY NO. 21): Career rushing leader for franchise, as dependable as they come. Strong, can pound through line, but also has quick feet to cut to open space. Had 1,214 rushing yards and eight TDs during season.

-ALDON SMITH (OLB, JERSEY NO. 99): All-Pro sacks machine. Not as good as he needs to be in coverage, but is raw. Then again, why not rush him every play? Great burst off the line, big wingspan and maneuverability.

-PATRICK WILLIS (ILB, JERSEY NO. 52): With apologies to Ray Lewis, Willis is best linebacker in this Super Bowl - and probably best in entire league. Has been All-Pro in five of six seasons.

- Barry Wilner

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EDITOR'S NOTE - ``Super Bowl Watch'' shows you the Super Bowl and the events surrounding the game through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across New Orleans and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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