Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Super Bowl XLVII: Who has the edge?

The 49ers are making their first appearance in the Super Bowl since Jan. 29, 1995. Their dramatic turnaround from 6-10 in 2010 to consecutive appearances in the NFC title game and now a Super Bowl is complete.

Meanwhile, the Ravens have flirted with this opportunity for several years, making the AFC title game three times since 2008 but not winning it until this season.

The clubs have several similarities, and they go well beyond coaches who are brothers and got on each other's nerves as kids. The blue-collar, physical mentality of both teams is evident in their on-field demeanors. Both thrive on power running games, spearheaded by Frank Gore (49ers) and Ray Rice (Ravens). And they have two of the better young quarterbacks in the game — though San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and Baltimore's Joe Flacco couldn't be more different.

These teams' adaptability is also notable. Both can let it fly and light up the scoreboard, but they have the ability to go old-school, too, and play conservatively.

This is a game where, truly, anything is possible.

Who has the edge?

Quarterback

The toughest call of all. The Ravens' Joe Flacco is red hot. The 49ers' Colin Kaeper­nick is revolutionary. The option-run variable probably makes Kaepernick harder to defend, but Flacco is much more experienced with an 8-4 record in the postseason.

Edge: 49ers

Running bacK

How to choose between the Ravens' Ray Rice and 49ers' Frank Gore? Both are dual-purpose threats with powerful running styles. But if there's a difference in the backfield, it's Bernard Pierce (532 yards), who gives the Ravens the better 1-2 punch.

Edge: Ravens

Receiver/tight end

Both teams have numerous weapons, but Baltimore's depth — including Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta — and superior production win out. The 49ers' drop-off after receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis is significant.

Edge: Ravens

Offensive line

The stability and continuity on the 49ers' line along with the fact it's anchored by second-team All-Pro left tackle Joe Staley, are important factors in this game. In addition, the Ravens have overachieved after injuries and a reshuffling of their line entering the playoffs.

Edge: 49ers

Defensive line

This is an area of strength for both teams, but the way Justin Smith has played this season tips the scale toward San Francisco. He tied for fourth among defensive linemen with 66 tackles.

Edge: 49ers

Linebackers

Check out the talent: Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman for the 49ers and Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs for the Ravens. But the Niners are younger and healthier (though Lewis doesn't look the least bit slowed by October's torn triceps).

Edge: 49ers

Secondary

The Ravens' pass defense stats were rather average except for one: 14 touchdown passes, second-fewest allowed in the NFL. But the 49ers are deep with solid cornerbacks and Pro Bowl safeties in Dashon Goldston and Donte Whitner.

Edge: 49ers

Special teams

This is the 49ers' biggest weakness. David Akers has missed 14 of his past 38 field goals. The career 81 percent kicker made just 69 percent in the regular season and missed a 38-yarder in the NFC title game. Rookie Justin Tucker is 32-of-35, including 2-for-2 in the playoffs.

Edge: Ravens

Coaching

It's difficult. But Jim Harbaugh is, arguably, a bigger factor in the 49ers' success than brother John is in the Ravens' success. Plus, the decision to start Colin Kaepernick at quarterback was pure genius, and he has brainiac offensive coordinator Greg Roman on his side.

Edge: 49ers

Super Bowl XLVII: Who has the edge? 02/02/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 2, 2013 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.