Sunday, January 20, 2013
Quick Take: 49ers vs. Ravens
By Mike Sando
Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLVII, in which the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3:
1. Family affair: The coaching Harbaughs, Jim and John, will of course be on opposite sidelines when Jim's San Francisco 49ers face John's Baltimore Ravens for the Lombardi Trophy. Let's get some of the specifics out of the way early. John turned 50 on Sept. 23, the day his Ravens played New England in a Sunday night game. Jim turned 49 on Dec. 23, the day his 49ers played Seattle in a Sunday night game. John played defensive back at Miami of Ohio. Jim played quarterback at Michigan before a 14-year career in the NFL. Their father, Jack, played at Bowling Green. Jack Harbaugh coached high school ball in Ohio before coaching at Western Michigan and Western Kentucky. And don't forget about Jackie, wife of Jack and mother to the coaching brothers.
2. What's new this time: The Ravens handled the 49ers, 16-6, when the teams played during the 2011 season. Much has changed since then, particularly for the 49ers. Alex Smith, sacked nine times in that Ravens game and 75 times in his past 28 games overall, is no longer starting at quarterback. His successor, Colin Kaepernick, has taken five sacks in his past five starts, counting playoffs. The 49ers should also be much more rested this time than when they traveled across the country on a short week to face the Ravens in that Thanksgiving game last season.
3. Passing the torch: This Super Bowl matchup features two of the most dominant inside linebackers of their eras. San Francisco's Patrick Willis counts Baltimore's Ray Lewis as a friend and mentor. The two have combined for 19 Pro Bowl appearances and 12 first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections. Lewis plans to retire after this game. He has called Willis a worthy heir to his throne as most feared linebacker in the game.
4. The option option: Kaepernick handed off on each of the 49ers' 13 option plays against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game. A week earlier, Kaepernick kept the ball seven times on option plays and gained 99 yards on them against Green Bay. He had 181 yards rushing against the Packers overall. The Ravens have faced the option in one game this season. Washington had 15 option rushes for 93 yards against Baltimore in Week 14, but Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III finished that game with his fourth-lowest Total QBR score (42.6) of the season, counting playoffs. Griffin left that game with a knee injury.
5. Three in a row: The 49ers have won three games in a row for the first time all season. They are looking to become the first team in NFL history to win a Super Bowl without posting three or more consecutive victories during the regular season. The Ravens had two four-game winning streaks during the season. They've won three in a row during the postseason after losing four of their final five to close the regular season.