For all Super Bowl fans, especially SF Niner fans.
Also sent this to my ole high school classmates up in Oregon:
Vegas has the SF 49ers favored by three and a half points in the Super Bowl - and I agree with that - but we will only know when the final whistle blows.
In analyzing why the Niners should win - many commentators have noted that these teams are virtual carbon copies of each other - and why is that?
Well, look no further than the Coaches, the Brothers Harbaugh (John for the Baltimore Ravens - younger bro Jim for SF) and how they learned the game - from their father.
Proud Papa - Jack Harbaugh - was on the staff of legendary Michigan Coach - Bo Schembechler - and naturally - with such a Big 10 lineage and stout mid-western heritage (German and Irish) - the Harbaugh brothers believe in first pounding the ball.
BTW - their younger sister Joanie is married to the head basketball coach of #3 ranked Indiana - who "upset" #1 Michigan last night. For great pics of this "All-American" family - see: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/nfl/photos/1301/childhood-photos-of-harbaugh-brothers/
These two SB teams believe in power football - and both have BIG lines up front (the "big uglies" - or "athletic fat men") - on both sides of the ball, and how they perform will really be the key to the game. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1507399-ravens-vs-49ers-how-offensive-lines-will-win-super-bowl-xlvii and http://www.jsonline.com/sports/ravens-49ers-show-nfl-is-still-a-big-mans-game-m08je66-189534361.html
These two OL's average over 6'4" and well over 300 lbs - with Baltimore shuffling their O line toward the end of the year - moving Left Tackle Michael Oher (he of the movie - Blind Side fame) - over to right tackle, starting huge Bryant McKinnie (6'8" and 354 lbs ) at LT - and shifting the former RT - Kelechi Osemele to left guard.
Hey - the Ravens even have a Harvard man calling the signals at center - longtime veteran - Matt Birk.
This has helped RB Ray Rice ("Hey Diddle Diddle - Ray Rice up the middle") - who is lead by a bruising Fullback Vonte Leach (260 lbs) - in the same type of scheme that the 49ers employ with their helmet cracking blocker - FB - Bruce Miller - at a relatively svelte 248 lbs.
Interesting that only a few clubs in the NFL still employ a lead/blocking FB - but both these teams do and in no small part - that is whey they are in this year's Super Bowl. Again, these two teams show that even in the modern era of passing the football - no matter how many yards you can gain through the air - in playoff football - you also have to be able to also pound the ball!!!!!
The Niners are lead by former All-Pro/veteran Frank Gore at RB - who still can get the job done - and their OL (many think it could be the best in the NFL) - has been intact all season - and have good reserves in the 6th and 7th spots. In fact - their Left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Mike Iupati might well be the best tandem in the NFL.
SF also has a fleet rookie reserve at RB - former Oregon Duck LaMichael James - and they bring him in to stretch the D on the corners.
On Defense - up front for Baltimore may be the best D-Lineman in the game - monster Hyoti Ngota - (what - 6'4" and 345 lbs and cat quick ) - and of course, they have the legendary Ray Lewis at MLB and All-Pro LB Terrence Suggs operating alongside Lewis, and the other two LB's go 270 lbs.
Baltimore has a HUGE D - biggest in the game.
On the other hand - the Niners defensive front 7 are arguably the best in the game, and they have a good pass rush combining two Smiths (DE Justin Smith and LB Aldon Smith) - and also a bit younger than the wily Ravens front 7, who have experience on their side.
In the Defensive Backfield - the Ravens may have the edge - with perennial All-Pro Ed Reed at safety and enforcer Bernard Pollard (a safety weighing 223 lbs?) - but again, these are both very good defenses.
Both teams also employ big/strong/fast Wide Receivers - and good Tight Ends - with the Niners TE - Harold Davis - being as fast as most WR's and a real deep threat - while the Ravens bring "beast" - WR Anton Bouldon - who is really a TE in a WR's uniform.
During the game - you should also hear the names of the Niner WR's Eric Crabtree and long time/aging stalwart Randy Moss - (once a bad boy/prima donna WR - but now a model citizen) - while the Ravens will send fleet WR Torrey Smith deep downfield and TE Derrick Pitta across the middle.
So then - what is the biggest difference between the two teams?
The Ravens come into the game with the winningest playoff QB of all time - and big John Flacco (6-6 and 245 lbs) - hasn't thrown an interception in these playoffs. He has an absolute cannon for an arm, plus he/they are not afraid to go deep - with the Ravens attempting and completing the most passes in the NFL beyond 20 yards.
For SF - the emergence of young/fleet Colin Kaepernick - the X Factor - running the "Pistol" offense (think "Shotgun" with a RB behind the QB) - has been nothing short of spectacular.
Since the former Nevada Wolfpack star took over for injured/very capable QB Alex Smith (what - 3 Smiths on one team and two on the other?) - in the 9th game of the season - Kapernick has rewarded Coach Jim Harbaugh's continued faith in him (note - Jim played QB for 15 seasons in the NFL) - and is perhaps the biggest threat out of the backfield that the game has ever seen.
Colin's also a good sized lad - at 6'4+ and 230 pounds - and is very fast - with his long stride/ smooth loping style - fooling more than one LB/DB - as he cruised by them - which he did dramatically in the playoff win v. Green Bay.
Yet Kaepernick also posses a very good arm - and showcased it - while destroying a good Atlanta Falcon defense through the air - in the NFC championship.
So it might really come down to: Can the young/fleet QB - running the more explosive/varied pistol offense - beat the more experienced, stellar play of the Ravens Joe Flacco - who is not afraid to go deep - and methinks yes.
Final guess: Niners 30, Ravens 20. (But as you know - turnovers can also tell the story).
Super Bowl Preview + Go SF Forty-Niners.
For all Super Bowl fans, especially SF Niner fans.
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