Super Bowl 2013: Comparing Offensive Personnel Between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens

We’ve been inundated for the past two weeks with information overload on the Super Bowl 2013 participants so here goes my attempt at slicing through the signal to noise ratio and boiling down the important things to keep an eye on…

(asterisk denotes 2013 Pro Bowl selection)

Quarterbacks:

San Francisco:

QB – Colin Kaepernick

Baltimore:

QB – Joe Flacco

Comments: Neither young man made the Pro Bowl, but both have enjoyed a particularly good season. Flacco has the big arm and experience, but Kaepernick has the edge in overall athletic ability. You won’t see Flacco busting any 75-yard TD runs in the Super Bowl or anywhere else. Kaepernick’s dynamic play gives the Ravens’ defense things to worry about that Flacco doesn’t have the skill set for. Since both teams have had two weeks to study, neither should surprise the other, but the larger playbook Kaepernick brings makes game-planning a tad easier on brother Jim over brother John.

edge to San Francisco

Offensive lines:

San Francisco:
LT – Joe Staley*
LG – Mike Iupati*
C – Johnathan Goodwin
RG – Alex Boone
RT – Anthony Davis

Baltimore Ravens:

LT – Bryant McKinnie
LG – Kelechi Osemele
C – Matt Birk
RG – Marshal Yanda*
RT – Michael Oher

Comments: Much has been made of the fact the 49′ers have the “NFL’s best offensive line” and there’s a very good case for it. They have three first-round picks plus a first-round “talent” in RG Alex Boone. Boone went undrafted due to off-field issues but has matured into a very solid player, and the SF line has no glaring weaknesses. The Ravens, however, have 2 first rounders to go with a second and third-rounder, plus 6th-rounder Matt Birk who has developed into a top-five center in the NFL. He and Bryant McKinnie were part of those offense-heavy Vikings teams from the early/mid 2000′s. Michael Oher can play either tackle position and Kelechi Osemele is a rookie who is playing at a high level. Both squads are excellent, but the Niners have two Pro-Bowlers from the 2012 season while the Ravens have one.

very slight edge to San Francisco

Jan 12, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) celebrates a touchdown against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter during the AFC divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receivers:

San Francisco:

WR1 – Michael Crabtree
WR2 – Randy Moss
WR3 – Mario Manningham – on injured reserve
WR – Ted Ginn, jr.
WR – A.J. Jenkins

Baltimore:

WR1 – Anquan Boldin
WR2 – Torrey Smith
WR3 – Jacoby Jones

Comments: Looking at just the WRs doesn’t give a complete picture of either offense, but taking the groups as a whole, the Baltimore Ravens have more depth and a broader range of talents than do the 49′ers. This was also evidenced by the fact that in last year’s NFC Championship Game, the Niners’ WRs had a whopping 3 receiving yards. The organization went out and got Braylon Edwards, Mario Manningham, and Randy Moss to help fill that void. Moss is the only one playing and is past his prime, but he’s found a “mini” fountain of youth in San Fran. San Francisco also has the sole 1,000-yard receiver from 2012 as Michael Crabtree finally broke out and became the receiver they thought they were getting in the 2009 draft. Moss’ experience allows him to find the holes in zones and he still has the speed to get deep.

The Ravens have a younger group with even more diverse talents. Anquan Boldin has made a name for himself this past decade making a living over the middle and is a fearless possession-type receiver that should see some tough yards in the Super Bowl and some key first downs. Torrey Smith is the biggest deep threat at the WR position on either squad, and Jacoby Jones adds that third experienced WR from either the slot or opposite Boldin.

edge to Baltimore

Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) runs after a catch against Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Stephen Nicholas (54) during the third quarter of the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tight Ends:

San Franciso:

TE – Vernon Davis

Baltimore:

TE – Dennis Pitts

Comments: Both teams’ tight ends fit into their team’s offense quite well with Davis being able to go deep with sub-4.4 speed and Pitta running precise routes underneath as a third or fourth option in check-downs with some plays with him as the primary sprinkled in. Davis is the bigger name, but Pitta had more receptions, yards, AND touchdowns than did Davis. Don’t forget that Davis, however, had to get with the new QB Kaepernick in midseason and get on the same page with the new starter. Davis has the ability to crack open a game at any given time and has linebacker size with sprinter’s speed.

edge to San Francisco

Running Backs:

San Francisco:

HB – Frank Gore*
HB2 – LaMichael James
FB – Bruce Miller

Baltimore:

HB – Ray Rice*
HB2 – Bernard Pierce
FB – Vonta Leach*

comments: Both teams have very, very strong running games and should test each other’s defenses quite well. Gore and James provide that hammer/speed combo that gives defenses fits. Once the defense gets used to tackling a big powerful runner like Gore, a speedier and more agile guy like former Oregon standout LaMichael James seems to gain another step and destroys the angles the defenders use in going after Gore. The Ravens are the same way with Rice and Pierce, just the opposite fashion. Rice is the slasher-type with great hands out of the backfield while Pierce brings more power to the table. Baltimore has the added advantage of having a Pro-Bowl blocker in fullback Vonta Leach.

edge to nobody – the two are even

Topics: Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XLVII

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