Just two years ago, the San Francisco 49ers were an underachieving squad that really didn’t have the ability to get the job done when it counted. Now, the team has been to back to back NFC Championship Games, and it is here in Super Bowl 47. These are the five steps that the 49ers need to take if they are going to knock off the Baltimore Ravens.
Key #1: Vernon Davis has to be an intricate part of the passing game – Last week, the argument could be made that the reason the 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons is because of the play of Davis. He really didn’t have a great game over the course of the second half of the season, but five catches, 106 yards, and a TD in the NFC title game changed all of that. Davis has to open up the middle of the field to loosen up the Baltimore safeties and give WR Michael Crabtree some more space to operate.
Key #2: Colin Kaepernick has to get more done with his legs – Kaepernick might have only effectively rushed the ball once against the Falcons, but he did a lot more with his legs than one would think. The gazelle-like quarterback doesn’t need to rush for 181 yards like he did against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. He does, though, need to figure out how to keep this offense moving, by getting outside and making some plays in space, whether that be by directly running or throwing on the run.
Key #3: The secondary can’t allow the big time plays – We’ve seen WR Torrey Smith and WR Anquan Boldin burn secondaries all postseason long, and we have also seen the 49ers give up their share of big plays, too. Smith and Boldin probably aren’t as good as WR Julio Jones and WR Roddy White, but they are just as big of a threat to get up the field and make something happen, which is scary for a suddenly suspect secondary.
Key #4: Simply put, the Niners need more sacks – When the 49ers are at their best defensively, they are logging sacks against quarterbacks. They have only had a total of two sacks in their last two games, and their top sack man, LB Aldon Smith hasn’t had a sack in almost two full months. The defense has had some solid performances since that point, but there have been some suspect ones, too. The easiest key to success for this defense is going to be putting QB Joe Flacco on his back.
Key #5: Ray Rice has to be tracked all over the field – Rice is one of the shiftiest running backs in the entire league, and he can be used as an incredibly versatile weapon for the Ravens. He can get down low in space, and he can be a bear to tackle as a result. On top of that, Rice is a great receiver, and he logged 61 catches over the course of the regular season. We really haven’t seen Rice have one of those “out of this world” days, but we know that he is capable of tearing apart even the best of secondaries. The Niners are going to allow some yards, and maybe even a touchdown or two to Rice, but they have to contain him no matter where he ultimately goes and cannot let him bust humongous play after humongous play.
Andrew Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.