San Francisco’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick

San Francisco’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick

America’s sports fans love firsts — and lasts. This year’s Super Bowl has delivered storylines both original and conclusive.

Consider, if you will, the Har-bowl: Never have brothers been the head coaches of teams in the same Super Bowl.

On Sunday, John Harbaugh leads his Baltimore Ravens into the Superdome to face younger sibling (by 15 months) Jim Harbaugh and his San Francisco 49ers.

This NFL championship will be the first played in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. As the city was rebuilt and the Superdome revamped, the league kept its promise to return the Super Bowl to the Big Easy.

Baltimore’s quarterback Joe Flacco

Baltimore’s quarterback Joe Flacco

And it will be the final game of a brilliant career for Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced his retirement just before the playoffs. Then he became the emotional engine for Baltimore’s run to its second Super Bowl.

As if the Super Bowl doesn’t normally have enough plots and subplots …

Both Harbaughs had a chance to reach the big game last year, but their teams lost in conference championships. This time, the 49ers rallied from a 17-0 hole to win at Atlanta, and the Ravens avenged the previous year’s defeat at New England.

“Well, I think it’s a blessing and a curse,” Jim Harbaugh said.

“A blessing because that is my brother’s team. And, also, personally I played for the Ravens. … The curse part would be the talk of two brothers playing in the Super Bowl and what that takes away from the players that are in the game. Every moment that you’re talking about myself or John, that’s less time that the players are going to be talked about.”

Perhaps except for Lewis. With very few exceptions, rarely does any player but a quarterback own the spotlight during Super Bowl week. Ray Lewis owns this spotlight.

Lewis missed 10 weeks this season with a torn right triceps, but Baltimore kept him on the roster. The idea was for Lewis to get healthy enough for the stretch run, and to have his presence in the lineup inspire a team that made the postseason the last four years without advancing to the Super Bowl.

The Ravens not only got that boost of passion, they got the 37-year-old Lewis playing like he was in his prime; he has 44 tackles in three playoff games.

“You could say we’re playing for Ray,’’ defensive end Paul Kruger said. “But what that means to us is that nobody wants to be the guy who lets him down.”

Lewis loves what he terms “chess matches’’ with opposing quarterbacks, and he just won two of those, against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Pretty impressive.

But this matchup has a bit of extra spice to it because 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick brings a different dynamic to the Super Bowl.

Kaepernick is inexperienced. He barely played for 1½ seasons before Jim Harbaugh elevated him to starter in November when incumbent Alex Smith was injured. The coach stuck with the youngster whose athleticism and creativity has provided big-play capability for San Francisco’s offense.

The mind games Lewis and the Ravens’ ultraphysical defense like to play with opposing quarterbacks could hit a roadblock because they can’t be sure what to expect from Kaepernick.

As he attempts to keep San Francisco’s Super Bowl record spotless — 5-0, and hoping to tie Pittsburgh’s record of six titles — Kaepernick also seeks to join Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young in leading the 49ers to the top.

Kaepernick’s rise to Super Bowl quarterback has come much quicker than did Joe Flacco’s. Baltimore’s Flacco is the only QB to win a playoff game in each of his first five pro seasons, and he has six postseason road victories, an NFL record. He’s been superb this winter, throwing eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the playoffs. Now he faces a defense even stingier than Baltimore’s, and just as hard-hitting, with just as many playmakers.

Yet another intriguing scenario for this Super Bowl.

SUPER BOWLXLVII

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 3
TIME: 6:30 p.m. ET
WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans

HISTORY: The Super Bowl was played in the Superdome in 1978, 1981, 1986, 1990, 1997 and 2002. In 1990, San Francisco beat the Denver Broncos, 55-10.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

BALTIMORE RAVENS

HOW THE TEAMS MATCH UP

OFFENSE
49ERS RAVENS
WON-LOST- TIED 11-4-1 10-6
FIR ST DOWNS 322 314
1ST DOWNS RUSH 128 98
1ST DOWNS PASS 172 182
3RD DOWN ATT 194 217
3RD CONVERS IONS 68 80
REDZONE TDS 28 28
RED ZONE FGS 20 15
1ST DOWNS BY P ENALTY 22 34
TOTA L YDS (S EASON) 5,789 5,640
AVG YDS/GAM E 361.8 352.5
RUSHING(N ET) 2,491 1,901
AVG RUSH Y DS/GAM E 155.7 118.8
RUSH ES (S EASON) 492 444
AVG YDS PER RUSH 5.1 4.3
PASS ING(N ET) 3,298 3,739
AVG PASS Y DS/GAM E 206.1 233.7
PASS ATT (S EASON) 436 560
COMPLE TED PASS ES 289 334
PASS ES COM PLE TE% 66.3 59.6
YARDSGA INED 3,551 3,900
SACKS A LLOWED 41 38
YDSLOSTBYSA CKS 253 257
INTERCEP TIONS 8 11
YARDS OPP RETURN 70 231
OPP TDSONINT 0 3
FUMBLES 26 14
FUMB LES LOST 8 5
POSS . TIME (AVG) 31:46 32:25
RUSH ING TDS 17 17
PASS ING TDS 23 22
RETURNTDS 4 5
POINTS SCORED 397 398
DEFENSE
49ERS RAVENS
POINTS ALLOWED 273 344
OPP FIR ST DOWNS 284 326
AVG RUSH YDS ALLOWED 72 105
AVG PASS YDS ALLOWED 178 187
PENALTIES 34 34
OPP YARDS GAINED 4,710 5,615
AVG PER GAM E 294.4 350.9
OPP R USHING(NET) 1,507 1,965
AVG RUSH Y DS/GAME 94.2 122.8
OPP RUSH ES 407 492
AVG YARDS PER RUSH 3.7 4.0
OPP PASSING(NET) 3,203 3,650
AVG PASS YDS/GAME 200.2 228.1
PASS ES ATT 567 557
COMPLE TED 337 335
PASSES COMPLETE% 59.4 60.1
SACKS 38 37
YDSLOSTBYSACKS 270 250
INTERCEP TIONS 14 13
YDS RETURNED 216 196
RETURNED FOR TD 2 2
OPP TDS 29 33
RUSHING TDS 7 15
PASSING TDS 19 15
SPECIAL TEAMS
49ERS RAVENS
PUNTS 67 83
PUNTS AVG YDS 48.1 47.1
PUNT RETS 36 43
AVG RET YARDS 10.5 9.4
RETURNED FOR TD 0 1
KICKOFF RE TS 49 60
AVG RET Y DS 24.8 27.3
RETURN FOR TD 0 2
OPP P UNT RE TS 36 49
AVG YDS RE T 6.9 7.8
OPP KICKOFF RE T 48 37
AVG YDS RETURN 26.9 23.2
OPPR ETURNTDS 3 2
PAT ATT EMPTED 44 42
PAT MA DE 44 42
2-P T CONVER S ATT 0 2
2-P T CONVER S MADE 0 1
FIELDG OALS ATT 42 33
FIELD GOALSMA DE 29 30

THIS CENTURY’S
SUPER BOWLMVPS
2012 Eli Manning, QB, Giants
2011 Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers
2010 Drew Brees, QB, Saints
2009 Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers
2008 Eli Manning, QB, Giants
2007 Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
2006 Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
2005 Deion Branch, WR, Patriots
2004 Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2003 Dexter Jackson, S, Buccaneers
2002 Tom Brady, QB, Patriots
2001 Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens
2000 Kurt Warner, QB, Rams

BASED ON REGULAR SEASON GAMES

STATISTICS FROMAP; PAGE DESIGNED AND BUILT BY POSTMEDIAEDITORIAL SERVICES


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