February 1, 2013
Why I'm Both Nervous and Optimistic About the Niners
The Pass Rush- Football Outsiders says don't worry about the pass rush or Joe Flacco throwing down the field. I'm still nervous though. Yes as FO said the Niners are excellent at preventing teams from moving the ball on first down. Still though they need a pass rush and they need Aldon Smith to get at least one sack and a half in this game. Without a pass rush my biggest fear is that Flacco will destroy the secondary with long passes to Torrey Smith.
David Akers- Once again a smart football writer says "don't be worried", this case it's Bill Barnwell, but I'm still nervous about Akers. I'm not worried about Akers screwing up a kickoff or an extra point or even a field goal within 30 yards. It's the long kicks that have me worried. It's the kicks that could give the Niners a lead or extend the lead that worry me. Akers has plenty of distance on his kicks, it's been the accuracy. He's pushed the kicks to the left and this scares the shit out of me. I hope he can redeem himself in the Super Bowl, but I'm not confident about it.
Ed Dickson- He destroys Northern California teams. End of story.
Baltimore's Destiny- It's hard not to get wrapped up in what Baltimore did to get to the playoffs. They shut down a hall of fame QB in the championship game to get here. It's hard not to get wrapped up in all the Ray Lewis stuff that doesn't involve God or deer antlers. Maybe it is Baltimore's year after all?
Baltimore's Run Defense- I put this as a nervous after watching Jaws and Merrill Hoge discuss the Ravens shutting down the Redskins run offense and RG3 during the season. Then I looked up the stats and saw that Washington still averaged 5 yards a carry in that game and won even though RG3 got hurt. Lesson from all of this, yes it's fun watching Jaws and Hoge break down game film but that doesn't always tell the complete story.
Baltimore's Destiny- Yes I'm nervous and optimistic about "Baltimore's Destiny. I'm optimistic because the last time the 49ers played a team in the playoffs that was proclaiming their season "destiny" the Niners went to Chicago and thumped the Bears in the cold. I'm optimistic because going with a story line about "Baltimore's Destiny" hides the fact that they have weaknesses. I'm optimistic about "Baltimore's Destiny" because I don't believe in a team's "destiny". The best team always wins these games.
The 49ers Diverse Offense- Chris Brown of Smart Football and Grantland went over the diversity of the Niners offense and why they're hard to stop. In these playoffs alone we've seen the Niners destroy the Packers and Falcons through the air and ground. It Baltimore stops them on the ground, Kaepernick can beat them through the air. Having a diverse offense is cool.
Vernon Davis- VD is without a doubt the most important player on the Niners offense after Kaepernick. He's become one of the best blocking tight end's in the game often sealing the defense end on those read option plays but he also blocks down the field on other pass attempts. And I haven't even gotten to Davis the receiver yet. I have a feeling he's going to have a good game.
The Niners Defense- While the Niners don't cause as many turnovers as they did last year, they're still a tough defense to score against. As Banwell pointed out though the Niners don't give up big plays on first down, they stop running backs that aren't huge like Marshawn Lynch and Steven Jackson, and they can normally get to the QB eventually in the game.
Navorro Bowman- I'm not worried about Dennis Pitta or any other Baltimore receiver beating the Niners down the middle of the field because of Bowman. Bowman plays in Patrick Willis's shadow but the dirty little secret is that Bowman is better at pass defense than Willis. It's not a coincidence that Atlanta's 4th down try against the Niners two weeks ago was broken up by Bowman and not Willis.
At the end of the day you have a match up with two evenly matched teams. I really believe whoever wins the turnover battle will win this game. Good luck to the Ravens and GO NINERS!