(skip this header)

New Canaan News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

newcanaannewsonline.com Businesses

« Back to Article

Why 49ers will win: Too many weapons

WHY 49ERS WILL WIN
Updated 3:04 pm, Sunday, February 3, 2013

nextprevious

  • Linebacker Patrick Willis (52) and defensive tackle Justin Smith anchor a defense that has been formidable most of the season. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

    Linebacker Patrick Willis (52) and defensive tackle Justin Smith anchor a defense that has been formidable most of the season.

    Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

 

Larger | Smaller
Email This
Font
Page 1 of 1

New Orleans -- The 49ers will win the Super Bowl, and here's why: They have better players.

It's a game of speed and skill, and the 49ers feature both in abundance. The Ravens are riding a wave of emotion, courtesy of the Ray Lewis goodbye tour, but that won't be enough to stop a 49ers team that found an unbeatable late-season combination of sturdy defense and explosive offense.

Throw in a simmering Jim Harbaugh, who's been dying to avenge a loss to big brother John last season, and you have the perfect recipe for San Francisco success.

Now that we have the generalities out of the way, let's get down to specifics:

-- When the Ravens have the ball, they will try to run on the perimeter and draw in the 49ers' safeties to make tackles. If they have to come up to stuff the run, Baltimore will go to the play-action pass and try to connect deep over the middle.

Success or failure for each team depends on whether the 49ers can stop the run without cheating one of their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage.

Here's what 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith had to say about it:

"They are pretty much similar to what Indy used to do. They like to run the stretch scheme, make the corners and safeties have to come up and make tackles. ... I don't see them changing and I don't see us changing. We know what they are going to do, and we are going to try and stop the run with a little bit lighter box. If we can do that we are going to have a good day, and if we can't do that, we're going to have a rough day."

In other words, the 49ers need to stop the run straight up. And they've been doing that all season. Other than the Vikings' Adrian Peterson and the Rams' Steven Jackson, no one's run all over the 49ers. The front three of Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald will make the difference.

-- When the 49ers have the ball, it will be interesting to see how the Ravens choose to defend the read-option play engineered by quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

The Atlanta Falcons, in the NFC Championship Game, chose to leave their defensive end at home, forcing the action up the middle. They did not want Kaepernick running wild like he did against the Packers in the divisional playoff. So the middle was left for Frank Gore to exploit.

If that all sounds like gobble-gobble football speak, that's because it is. In simpler terms, the Ravens will have to make tough choices on how to defend against a multifaceted attack.

If they decide to take away Kaepernick's ability to run around end, the middle could be soft. If they shore up the middle, Kaep could run free. If they clamp down on both, the deep ball could be there.

"It depends on how defenses want to play it," said 49ers' offensive coordinator Greg Roman, of the team's new-look pistol offense. "It can force a defense to play certain ways that they might not play. If that is the case, so be it. I just think it is another way to get first downs."

Since Kaepernick took over at quarterback in Week 10 of the season, first downs have been coming a lot easier for a team that once struggled on offense.

"Any time you have a rare athlete, you are going to want to have that athlete impact the game any way that you can," said Roman.

Look for the Ravens to take away the edge and force Kaepernick to beat them with his arm.

And look for Kaepernick to do just that.

-- On special teams, the 49ers have the best punter in the league in Andy Lee. But they might have the shakiest place-kicker in David Akers.

Jim Harbaugh said Akers didn't miss a kick all week in practice, which may mean he's recovered from a pelvic injury that's plagued him.

"He's been hitting the ball really well," Harbaugh said. "He's had some really good hits on the ball that haven't gone through, and we'll live with that. ... We're very confident that he's going to have a big day in the Super Bowl."

In the return game, LaMichael James has made a difference on kickoffs. No one will catch the rookie speedster out of Oregon if he can break into the clear. That could be a game-changer.

In closing, we reiterate the core premise. The 49ers should win due to their superior talent. Stout defense coupled with versatile offense is a tough combination.

The last word goes to Gore, who has been waiting eight long years for this opportunity.

"We know what we came down here to do and what we came down here for," said Gore. "And that's to win a football game."

 

Al Saracevic is the sports editor of The San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail: asaracevic@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @alsaracevic