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. Checklist to help Bucs swagger into the postseason

    Bucs

    To boost their playoff prospects, the Bucs need to beat Atlanta at least once, as they did last year. Twice would be even nicer. (Loren Elliott, Times)
  2. Baddest of them all? Steelers LB James Harrison, hands down

    Bucs

    "No badass list is complete - or should begin anywhere else other than with - James Harrison," says Eric Edholm, an NFL writer who has worked at Yahoo Sports. (Associated Press)
  3. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs

    Bucs

    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  4. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  5. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.