The match up for Super Bowl XLVII is incredibly difficult to call. Both teams have overcome adversity, and both teams have weaknesses. In fact, I don’t totally trust either quarterback, or defense. Baltimore shut out the New England Patriots in the second half of the AFC Championship game, but San Francisco runs a totally different offense. San Francisco plays physical, but their defense almost let the Atlanta Falcons run away with the game early on in the NFC Championship game.
As for the quarterbacks, Joe Flacco has won playoff games in each of his seasons in the league, but he has also lost playoff games in each of those seasons. Colin Kaepernick has great skills, but he was shut down by the Seattle Seahawks in a prime time match up earlier in the season.
Both teams also have questions on special teams. San Francisco’s place kicker, David Akers, has missed several field goal attempts. The Baltimore Ravens, on the other hand, have a better kicker in Justin Tucker, but have been known to blow coverages on kick offs and punts.
In the passing game, The Ravens have a slight edge with their deep threat of Flacco to Torrey Smith. Anquan Boldin, and Dennis Pitta are solid, but The 49ers have the better overall receiving corps with Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, and Vernon Davis.
Both teams are solid in the run game. Baltimore’s Ray Rice is the top rusher in the playoffs this season with 247 yards. However, Frank Gore is number three with 230 yards in one less game. Right behind him is San Francisco quarterback Colin Kapernick has put up a jaw-dropping 202 yards rushing in his first NFL postseason. 183 of those yards came in one game against the Green Bay Packers.
Historically, both teams boast impressive records. San Fransisco is undefeated in five trips to the Super Bowl, and Baltimore has won one Super Bowl, and holds the best post season record of any team in history at .650. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco also has the most wins away from home of any quarterback in history at six.
San Francisco’s last Super Bowl victory was in 1988. Baltimore’s was in 2000. Because the 49ers history is much older than the Ravens’, I don’t see that playing any part in predicting this game. While they still have the mystique of being the 49ers, they are only three years removed from being one of the most underachieving teams in football. At the same time, the Ravens have been in the thick of the hunt for the better part of the past fourteen seasons.
In the previous round, both teams beat pass-first teams to get to the game, so it’s hard to tell how either will react to each other’s run-first attacks. But, it might be fair to say that the game will go to which ever team manages to pull off the first big pass plays, and if it comes down to that, my money is on Joe Flacco.
Being that both teams dodged bullets to get to the super bowl. The Ravens had a miraculous comeback against the Broncos, and the 49ers mounted an impressive come back against the Falcons. That should indicate that this game will be competitive until the end, even if one team gets off to a quick start.
On the line, the edge should go to San Francisco’s defense vs. Baltimore’s offense. Running the ball will be a challenge. So, I expect Baltimore to pass early to set up the run. Don’t be surprised if they take a shot at the endzone on first or second down of their first drive if they are not trailing.
San Francisco, on the other hand, has to hope that their read option offense has enough spark to confuse a veteran Ravens defense led by Ray Lewis who may have lost a step in terms of speed, but still reads an offense as well as anybody in history. I expect the Ravens to minimize Kaepernick’s rushing attack forcing Frank Gore to provide the bulk of the ground yards. Meanwhile, Kaepernick will have to rely on his arm, the major factor that set him apart from his teammate Alex Smith. Expect Gore to have a big game, and expect Kaepernick to air it out.
In the end, I believe that the Ravens’ experience, will outmatch the youth of the 49ers. The Ravens have spent years deliberatley improving their offense. The plan was to balance out their great defense to have a shot to win a super bowl. Now that they have made it back to the dance, I expect them to show up with their laces tied tight, and ready to rumble.
Ravens: 24 49ers: 17
Tags: afc, Alex Smith, Anquan Boldin, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Colin Kaepernick, David Akers, Dennis Pitta, featured, football, Frank Gore, Joe Flacco, Justin Tucker, Michael Crabtree, NFC, nfl, Popular, Previews, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVII, Torrey Smith, Vernon Davis
All the writers have their stories/predictions out and there seems to be a consensus. ”It’s going to be a low scoring game with the 49ers eeking out a 4 point victory”. Sure, why not? I could believe that! After all, that’s what logic would dictate, right?
We have the two best defenses in the league and two so-so offenses all in the same game. This combination doesn’t scream “high scoring bomb-a-thon”. And Alex Smith is hitting a rough patch in the road after dropping two recent games in fairly close proximity. Seattle, according to the sports elite, has a rookie QB the coaching staff doesn’t trust to throw down the field. They say look for a Gore vs Lynch grind for 4 quarters.
Well I could just join the chorus and agree with them but that’s not my style. And besides that, I don’t believe that’s how Pete Carroll is going to attempt to win this game. I just don’t see Carroll in his office up in Kirkland saying to is coaching staff “yeah, I think I’m going to game-plan according to all the sports writers and do the VERY predictable thing and run Lynch 35 times”. So, understanding full well that I’m 100% wrong when I try to predict what Carroll is GOING TO DO based on what I would do, but totally get what he DID after the game, Im’ going to try this week to think like Pete and make a bold statement as to how I think this game will go.
The 49ers already know about Lynch. They’re game planning to stop him. They also have a really good pass defense but probably aren’t all that afraid that Russell Wilson can do to them what he did to a mediocre Patriots secondary. They will stop Lynch if they can, and dare Wilson to beat them. Now they have last weeks game film, and they know Wilson can throw a pretty good long ball. So if I’m San Fran, I’m ready for that too. What does that leave? It leaves quick passes over the middle, in the flanks, and screens to backs. If I’m Carroll I’m also working on ways to add some sprint outs and a possible option run/pass into that mix with one of the most mobile young QB’s in the league. If Wilson can get the SF defense to quit worrying about the deep ball by mixing lots of short passes with Lynch runs, then eventually when he does go for the long ball, it will come as a little bit of a surprise to the SF secondary. Maybe there’s a long TD to be had if the timing and match-up is right. That should open up the running and short passing game even more.
And what about defensively? Alex Smith is not Tom Brady. He’s not even Russell Wilson. He’s…pedestrian (I learned that word hearing sports writers talk about Matt Flynn, though I don’t necessarily agree with that). There are already calls in San Francisco to bring in Colin Kaepernick. I haven’t seen the two games the 49ers lost, but I know Smith had some INT’s and wasn’t sharp. Smith’s confidence of last year might be starting to wane slightly with the two losses. With players like Smith if they’re taken out of their comfort zone they don’t do well. So pressure is critical. Getting him running, firing passes on the run, forcing him to make throws to his second or third receiver should help limit the damage he can do. So, stunts, blitzes, combined with getting really physical on SF’s older receivers should help make it a long day for Smith.
San Francisco is an old team. Still good, but getting long in the tooth by NFL standards. The young, tough new kids on the block should be able to keep up the punishment on the 49ers for 4 quarters. The Seahawks are overdue to get all three elements of the game going at the same time, offense, defense, and special teams. I expect the team to be focused and inspired by the challenge of playing a great team on the road. If that happens, this game will not be as close as everyone thinks. The 49ers are ripe for a blow-out just like the Texans were last week. They should not take this game lightly.
It’s time to take a brief break from the Marshawn Lynch hysteria to preview our final team of NFC West, other than our Seahawks. The 49ers are coming off a very surprising season, as they went from mediocrity it 2010 to the NFL championship game in 2011. Now the question is if they can build on that success and take the next step.
Helping out this time is Eric Melendez from Niner Noise.
Biggest Team Need Heading Into Offseason: Starting right guard
Key Free Agents Retained: QB Alex Smith
Key Player Additions: WR Mario Manningham
Key Players Leaving: Right guard Adam Snyder
Quick Thoughts on Draft: Going after WR A.J. Jenkins with the first round pick was a huge surprise as the team has no options at starting guard who have any previous experience as a starter.
Quick Thoughts on 2012 schedule: The 49ers’ secondary will tested often this season. The 49ers will go up against the Packers, Lions, Saints, Giants and Patriots in 2012. All five teams finished in the top-five of passing offense last season.
Most Interesting Roster Battle: Running back. With Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon the 49ers have a crowded backfield. It will be interesting to see who makes the team and who doesn’t, and where they fall on the depth chart.
Biggest Strength Heading Into 2012: Defense. The 49ers were completely dominant in all games last season on defense and will only get better in 2012.
Biggest Weakness Heading Into 2012: Right guard. If the 49ers want to continue their great rushing attack from last season and to improve their passing offense, they need a solid starter at right guard. Right now, there are not many options to be excited about.
Biggest Question Still To Be Answered: When will safety Dashon Goldson sign his contract? Goldson is the 49ers franchise tagged player and so far is holding out for more money than what the 49ers offered him in a multiple year contract.
2012 Prediction: 12-4, NFC West division champions.
I’m not sure where to start on my take on the 49ers. They’re a good team, but they were probably the least impressive 13-3 team I’ve ever seen. They’re bringing back all their talent from last season, but they didn’t make any upgrades and there are a number of warning signs that point to them not being able to match their 2011 success. Throw in that the 49ers were the league’s least-injured team in 2011, and that they’ll like see the other side of that coin in 2012, and they really are a tough team to preview.
Lets start with the positives. Their front 7 is scary. Justin Smith probably should have won the defensive rookie of the year award. He had an amazingly dominant year. That is especially true when you realize that move of Aldon Smith’s 14 sacks came on plays where he ran a stunt with Justin Smith, so essentially Justin Smith took out the blockers so Aldon Smith could come in clean. Justin Smith deserved an assist on almost all of those sacks. oh, and the rest of the front 7 is pretty damn good too.
On offense, the running game looks a lot like Seattle’s. Very solid blocking and a premier running back, and great depth behind him too. Combine a solid running game and a solid front 7 on defense, and you’re likely going to win the time of possession stat in almost every game.
Now for the bad. The secondary is very overrated. None of their 4 starters would start in Seattle. They also just paid a lot of money to keep a very average Rogers at CB, which is never a good idea. (Its the equivalent of the Seahawks giving Marcus Trufant a large contract this offseason. Surprisingly similar players when watching the game film.)
On offense, their WR corps is poor at best. They’re entire passing offense predicated on the fact that Randy Moss will suddenly become productive again, after 2 seasons of looking old. Crabtree is rapidly approaching getting hit with the bust label, and first round draft pick AJ Jenkins has looked so bad in practices so far that team doesn’t expect him to get on the field at all until late in the season.
And finally we come to Alex Smith. Harbaugh managed Smith in the best way possible last season. That is, they essentially removed him from the game plan. That’s the right idea what your QB was one of the worst players at his position in the league for the previous 6 seasons. I just don’t see how they can keep on a lid on this barrel of crap for another 16 games without it exploding all over the field. Especially not after the ego laced drivel that’s come out his mouth this offseason. Expect Smith to lose at least 2 winnable games for the 49ers this season.
One more thing (so I guess my comments on Smith shouldn’t have been preceded by “finally”) Much of the 49ers success was because of their record +28 turnover differential. As I’ve shown statistically on this site before, turnovers are a cruel mistress. Over the past 2 decades, teams that are the best at creating turnovers in any given season, are almost always below average at doing so the next season, even with the same players. The 49ers likely wont be able to depend on turnovers to make up for their other shortcomings again in 2012.
I still expect the 49ers to be good, and most likely win the division, but 10 to 11 wins seems like the max for the talent on their roster.
Tags: 49ers, Alex Smith, Chandler Jones, Chris Clemmons, Chris Clemons, David DeCastro, featured, football, John Schneider, Luke Kuechly, Mathew Stafford, matt flynn, MEGATRON, Mel Kiper Jr., Michael Floyd, Michael Williams, nfl, NFL Draft, Pete Carroll, Quentin Coples, Russel Okung, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Steve Hutchinson, Sydney Rice
The Seattle Seahawks are still looking for a new QB, and an interesting option may have just opened up. I must admit that I didn’t see this coming, and need to give credit to the Seahawks blog visit site to read more]
Tags: 710 ESPN, Alex Smith, draft, featured, football, John Schneider, Larry Grant, linebacker, matt flynn, Melvin Ingram, nfl, Pete Caroll, Peyton Manning, Quentin Coples, robert gallery, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Sydney Rice, tarvaris jackson, The Colts, The Seahawks, Zach Miller
This was a frustrating loss. Not because of a single huge mistake that cost them the victory, but because the game seemed to be there ready to be taken and the Seahawks couldn’t simply reach out and take it. Credit the 49ers, who made enough plays when it mattered, especially their punt return team.
This was one of those games where 1 play could have changed the outcome. The blown 3rd and goal play when the refs didn’t call the false start where Tarvaris Jackson get pushed out of bounds at the 1 comes to mind, as does the missed sack by Leroy Hill that set up a convertible 4th and 2 instead of 4th and 7 is another example. There’s also at least 5-6 horrible and obvious holding calls that were never called that should have help stall 49er drives. Any of those play could have changed this game, but the Seahawks just couldn’t get 1-2 of them to fall their way.
Sometimes football is like that. The 49ers won, but they are not clearly the better the team. These are 2 very even teams. Don’t let their records confuse you.
On to my game notes:
- The Seahawks loss officially eliminates them from the playoffs. It’s weird to think that there’s another game next week.
- Marshawn Lynch had another monster game, but most of it was in the first half. He finished with 21 carries for 107 yards and a TD. … [visit site to read more]
12. Continuing their partisan bickering, Dino Rossi and Patty Murray struggle to jointly raise the 12th man flag, fighting for control of the rope while their aides make statements blaming the other for its slow rise. Seahawks fans write in Chuck Knox on their ballots.
11. After watching Matt Hasselbeck throws three touchdown passes in the 1st half, Larry Fitzgerald demands a trade to the Hawks midway through the 2nd quarter.
10. Thanks to the new law allowing police greater powers to detain suspected illegal immigrants, local cops in Arizona interrupt the Cardinals’ game with the Seahawks to detain Arizona defensive back Hamza Abdullah.
9. You never know when Marshawn Lynch is going to unleash the beast, unfortunately for shoppers it was at a the Southcenter Mall. In the melee The Beast ran for 400 yards, injured 14, and in Macy’s alone, broke seven tackles before being brought down by security. When asked for comment, mall security said it was the most devastating combination of speed and power they’d ever seen.
8. With his public image steadily deteriorating, Brett Farve finds himself craving the adoration of fans and mistakenly does the Lambeau leap into the stands at Lambeau Field after throwing a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. It doesn’t end well.
7. Brett drops his unlimited minutes package and returns to T-Mobile’s “Family Plan.”
Tags: 12th Man, 12th Man Rising, Alex Bannister, Alex Smith, Arizona Cardinals, Beast Mode, Brett Favre, Darrell Jackson, Deion Branch, football, Humor, Jay Cutler, Koren Robinson, Lambeau Field, Larry Fitzgerald, Marshawn Lynch, Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Singletary, NFC West, nfl, Qwest field, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Tim Ruskell, Top 12
Following a huge victory in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks failed to execute and lost miserably last Sunday in Denver.
The 49ers, despite an 0-2 record, looked much improved against the New Orleans Saints. And despite a defeated season through two weeks, the media is prepared to admire Mike Singletary and friends once again.
Prior to the season opener, the San Francisco 49ers were considered by many to be the class of the NFC West. That isn’t saying much, but on paper, they seemed to be primed for a breakout season in a weak division.
Everyone conveniently forgot Alex Smith is still San Francisco’s starting quarterback.
Mike Singletary, a clown not worthy of his apparent prominence, is still the head coach – and still “great” despite a 13-14 coaching record without any postseason appearances.
Apparently, after barely losing to the New Orleans Saints, the 49ers are finally living up to their potential.
But they’re still winless in 2010. And close doesn’t count in the National Football League; a loss is a loss.
According to Mike Sando of ESPN.com, however, the San Francisco 49ers are still better than the Seattle Seahawks. Yes, they are ranked higher than the team who handily beat them in the first week of the regular season.
In his latest power rankings, Mike Sando ranks the San Francisco 49ers as the 20th best team in the National Football League, ahead of the Cardinals (23), Seahawks (24), and Rams (31).
And yes, the Cardinals – who barely beat the Rams in week one and were easily defeated by the Atlanta Falcons last week – are also ahead of the Seahawks.
The season is young, but I don’t know how anyone can justify ranking the 49ers or Cardinals ahead of the Seahawks. Until the Seahawks win the division, the media will continue to give unearned credit to the 49ers.
Did anyone watch the first week of the regular season?
Tags: Alex Smith, Arizona Cardinals, ESPN, football, Mike Singletary, National Football League, New Orleans Saints, NFC West, nfl, power rankings, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
12. When you have Jesus (Charlie Whitehurst) on your side anything is possible. Those footprints you see in the turf beside Justin Forsett’s? Those are Charlie’s footprints. And when you only see one set, that’s because Charlie is carrying him. You didn’t think the Seahawks were paying him millions just to hold a clipboard, did you?
11. The 49ers are game planning for Troy Polumbus, not Tyler Polumbus.
10. You know Matt Hasselbeck always puts up big numbers when he benches himself on his fantasy football team.
9. Unlike 49ers fans, the 12th man won’t be distracted by an exceptional wine harvest in Napa Valley. While 49ers fans taste the latest chardonays, Seahawks fans will be making things miserable for San Francisco’s new offensive line. Rookie false starts make up for an unimposing defense.
8. Taylor Mays is going to be amped up to play against the college coach who didn’t draft him. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of being amped is explosive brain farts. He’s big, fast and strong, but they don’t make Beano for brain farts. The referees will have their flags poised and ready. He’s going to give up big plays, commit penalties, and leave the John Schneider looking pretty smart. This would make a great time for Golden Tate to step up.
7. Nobody in this league drops a pass with the frequency of Ted Ginn Jr. And nobody runs a bobbled pass back for a touchdown like Earl Thomas. That’s at least six points right there.
6. This year’s Sea Gals are looking very good and the 49ers are a team of wandering eyes. The Sea Gals have received special training from a sexy squad of CIA agents in the classefied art of disabling the male brain through the slightest of jiggling and high kicking.
5. Lofa Tatupu’s torn pectoral muscle is healed, and Vernon Davis’ incredible pectoral muscles are actually breast implants. Good luck getting off the line VD.
4. Brian Westbrook was a great player, but with all the head injuries he’s sustained, he may end up being the first player in a long time to run the wrong way and end up in the opponents endzone.
3. Vernon Davis has already gotten into it with Michael Crabtree for holding himself out of preseason games and being a diva. A few things go wrong in the first quarter (like the 12th man chanting DIVA everytime he gets thrown to) and don’t be surprised if Crabtree has a meltdown, and a huge slap fight breaks out.
2. People think this is the year Alex Smith puts it together. Not going to happen. When a team has already been given Joe Montana and Steve Young, it’s just not going happen a third time, no matter how early you’re drafted.
1. John Schneider still has a few roster moves to make before kickoff…
Tags: 12th Man, Alex Smith, Brian Westbrook, Charlie Whitehurst, football, Humor, John Schneider, Lofa Tatupu, Matt Hasselbeck, Michael Crabtree, nfl, Pete Carroll, Qwest field, San Francisco 49ers, Sea Gals, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, Taylor Mays, Ted Ginn Jr., Top 12, Tyler Polumbus, Vernon Davis
The team will feature the best players from around the NFC West, and will ultimately square up against other divisions around the National Football League.
Instead of privately selecting the roster, however, we would like to get you involved in the process. On the surface, it would seem that the talent in the NFC West isn’t up to par with the rest of the league; I think you’ll be surprised at some of the talented individuals representing the division.
We’ll go one position at a time to make the process more simple. Feel free to voice your opinions about each position, but don’t forget to vote for the best player.
Arizona Cardinals: Matt Leinart
Leinart was once considered a top quarterback prospect in 2006 when the Cardinals selected him tenth overall in the NFL Draft. In Arizona, however, he has largely been buried by the shadow of Kurt Warner – until now. Following the retirement of Warner, Leinart is the favorite to start for the Cardinals this season. He has a lifetime quarterback rating of 70.8 and has thrown more interceptions (20) than touchdowns (14) during his four-year career.
San Francisco 49ers: Alex Smith
Like Leinart, Alex Smith was once a can’t-miss prospect at the quarterback position. Smith was the first overall selection of the 2005 NFL Draft, but has barely lived up to the hype. Although he reclaimed the starting job in San Francisco and looked good as of late, his career quarterback rating is a pedestrian 69.2. During his five-year career in the NFL, Smith has thrown for 7,029 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 43 interceptions.
Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck is the most experienced quarterback in the NFC West, but he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl appearance since 2007 and turns 35 later this year. Despite his age, however, Hasselbeck has had more success than any of the other quarterbacks in his division and could still be capable of producing if he has offensive weapons around him. Hasselbeck has a career quarterback rating of 83.8, although he only has a rating of 69.9 after his Pro Bowl season in 2007.
St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford
Unproven yet promising, Sam Bradford enters the National Football League as the first overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. Bradford built a very impressive resume while playing for the University of Oklahoma, including Sporting News Freshman of the Year (2007), Heisman Trophy winner (2008), AP Player of the Year (2008), and several other awards. It may take a few years for him to develop, but the sky is the limit for Bradford in the NFL.
Shaun Dolence’s take:
I could be biased here, but I have to believe the best option is Matt Hasselbeck. Though he is approaching the end of his career, Hasselbeck is easily the best quarterback in the NFC West right now. Matt Leinart is unproven and may not be the answer to replace Kurt Warner in Arizona, Alex Smith has never lived up to the hype following his selection in the 2005 NFL Draft, and Sam Bradford is a rookie signal caller. Hasselbeck may have looked pedestrian at certain times last season, but he can still play quarterback in the National Football League. Especially if you surround him with some of the offensive weapons found within the division – Hasselbeck to Fitzgerald, anyone?
Andrew Auger’s take:
Even though Hasselbeck is past his prime his No. 1 ranking is a no brainer. The veteran has more success, experience, and savvy than any other starting quarterback in the division. Armed with an 83.3 career QBR, three pro bowls, and a trip to the big game, Hasselbeck is a clear cut above the rest of the largely untested crop of NFC West quarterbacks.
Alex Smith is a disappointment considering he was the No. 1 overall pick, but he has done something Leinart hasn’t; proven he can bounce back.
After starting out his career with a rather dismal 19:33 TD/INT ratio, he lit on fire with 2,350 yards, 18 TD’s and 12 INT’s over 11 games of the 2009 season. Throw in an eight percent increase in his career completion average (60.5), and an 81.5 QBR, and you have a resurgent quarterback on your hands.
Armed with an elite tight end, a sound offensive line, a top running back, and Michael Crabtree, we will know for sure if Alex Smith can cement himself as a capable starting quarterback in the NFL this coming season.
Matt Leinart is faced with the impossible task of filling Kurt Warners shoes after he led the Cardinals to their most successful stint in franchise history.
Nonetheless, a pass happy Cardinals offense with arguably the games best receiver in Fitzy will help mask some of Leinarts mediocrity.
Much like Smith, it’s now Leinarts turn to prove he can bounce back after not living up to his draft status at No. 10 overall.
Because Bradford is a rookie and he’s on the worst team in the division, he kind of gets put here by default.
We don’t know what he’s going to do, and after seeing the success of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco and the struggles of Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez recently, it could go any direction.
Steven Jackson is still this offense, and considering Bradford’s best weapons are Donnie Avery and a couple rooks, we shouldn’t expect too much.
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