Thursday, April 24, 2014
(Continued from page 1)
Colin Kaepernick has good reason to stand behind Coach Jim Harbaugh, who named him the 49ers’ starting quarterback in November – a gamble that’s paid off big time.
The Associated Press
Ravens pass rushers Suggs, DE Paul Kruger (99) and McPhee will need help containing Kaepernick, so watch for frequent blitzes from the secondary of safeties Ed Reed (20) and Bernard Pollard (31), CBs Cary Williams (29) and Corey Graham (24).
Controlling Davis is a key because he's a nightmare matchup for Baltimore's less-than-fast LBs.
The Niners could break some long plays in the secondary, too, because many of Baltimore's backs are mediocre tacklers. But Pollard will rock your world.
Baltimore has the edge here on returns and field goals. San Francisco gets the nod in punting.
All-Pro Jones led the league in kickoff returns with a 30.1 average and scored twice. He also ran back a punt for a TD.
Rookie Justin Tucker (6) has been a stud, making 30 of 33 field goals. But P Sam Koch (4) had too many low kicks that New England returned for good field position in the AFC title game.
The Ravens were solid on coverages during the season, but fell apart against Denver as Trindon Holliday ran back a punt and a kickoff for scores. They also struggled stopping Wes Welker's punt runbacks in New England.
San Francisco PK David Akers (2) has gone from All-Pro in 2011 to slumping this season and missed his only try against the Falcons. But the Niners have stuck with him.
Andy Lee (4) is among the top punters in the NFL. James and Ted Ginn Jr. (19) have breakaway capabilities on returns, but aren't consistent.
The Har-bowl is unique, but hardly a fluke. Both Harbaughs owe a strong debt to their dad, Jack, a lifelong coach who not only taught them how to play football, but how to teach it.
John's pro resume is record-setting: the only coach with wins in his first five postseasons. Unlike John, who did not play in the NFL, Jim quarterbacked 14 seasons with four teams. He has been in coaching a relatively short time, but his meteoric rise took him to San Diego -- the Toreros, not the Chargers -- and Stanford, where he tutored Andrew Luck.
Jim Harbaugh was the 2011 NFL Coach of the Year as a rookie, guiding the Niners to the conference title game.
Both of them will make the difficult decisions. John fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in December. Jim Caldwell took over and the offense, particularly Flacco, has been strong since.
Jim made the move to Kaepernick in November and we all know how that worked out.
Baltimore's additional boost has become tangible, actually, with the way the Ravens have performed at such a fevered pitch during Lewis' final postseason. Saying goodbye by giving him the Vince Lombardi Trophy is pretty darn motivating.
For the 49ers, a record-tying sixth Super Bowl -- Pittsburgh also has six, but has been beaten twice, while San Francisco is 5-0 -- and a first since the days of Steve Young is quite an inducement.
And, of course, each coach wants to sit atop the family tree.
-- Barry Wilner, The Associated Press