Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Kaepernick appears ready for the pressure
By Mike Sando
The Baltimore Ravens' defense was relentless in pressuring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith when the teams faced one another during the 2011 season.
There's reason to expect different results during the teams' rematch in the upcoming Super Bowl.
For starters, the 49ers have upgraded their offensive line at right guard. Their line has much more experience playing together. Also, that 2011 game was played in Baltimore, where the Ravens' home-field advantage complicated efforts to adjust pass protections.
Perhaps most importantly, current 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken sacks far less frequently than Smith did. Kaepernick has taken zero or one sack in seven of his nine starts. Smith had that few sacks in only six of 27 games dating to last season and counting the playoffs.
The Ravens collected nine sacks against Smith during a 16-6 victory on Thanksgiving last season. That included five sacks on the 13 plays when Baltimore rushed five or more defenders, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
As the chart shows, Kaepernick leads the NFL in Total QBR against five-plus pass-rushers since replacing Smith as the 49ers' starter in Week 11. His 11 rushes for 165 yards on those plays stand out. Kaepernick also averages 7.7 yards per pass attempt when he throws on these plays.
Something to keep in mind as we step around some of the popular Super Bowl story lines -- Harbaugh Bowl, Ray Lewis' legacy, etc. -- in favor of angles pertaining to the game on the field.