Super Bowl's biggest matchups
Can Baltimore find a way to slow down Colin Kaepernick?
When you look at every game the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers have played this season on film, it's fairly easy to get a good feel for what both teams like to do. Both the 49ers and Ravens are disciplined, tough-minded teams that have terrific schemes on both sides of the ball and are as fundamentally sound as it gets. What makes both Jim and John Harbaugh great coaches is their ability to create formations to exploit certain matchups.
Let's look at four such situations that could decide Super Bowl XLVII:
San Francisco pistol offense vs. the Baltimore defense
This is the hottest offense in the NFL right now, and nobody has really figured out an effective way to stop it. Not only are the blocking schemes very creative, but the "reads" that defenses key on are not typical of most run games and the 49ers seem to have the ability to make a defense guess wrong on almost every play.
The initial premise of the pistol is for Colin Kaepernick to ride RB Frank Gore into the hole on the inside run and read the defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on the scheme. If the edge defender crashes inside, Kaepernick will keep it and run wide; if the defender does a good job of setting the edge, Kaepernick can hand off inside. If things were this simple, it might be easy for the defense, but the 49ers add a lot of extra wrinkles to this scheme.
To read Gary Horton's full take on the matchups that could define the Super Bowl, plus get all of Insider's NFL content, sign up to be an ESPN Insider.