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    Andy Freeland
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  • Some Keys to Super Bowl 47

    Hello Gang. Thanks for keeping Football Pros looking great. Here are a few things I will be watching for in Super Bowl 47.

    1) How much help does Bryant McKinnie need blocking Aldon Smith? McKinnie has been terrific during the playoffs. This re-shuffled offensive line of the Ravens has allowed 4 sacks in three games and is a big reason for Joe Flacco's stellar play. Aldon Smith has been hearing all week about how ineffective he has been without a healthy Justin Smith and his streak of 5 games without a sack. He has to be ready to explode. McKinnie will need help, the only question is how much? The 49ers have to put Joe Flacco on the ground and Aldon Smith against Bryant McKinnie is a must win for Jim Harbaugh's squad.

    2) How will the Ravens play the read option? Most teams are sitting back and allowing Colin Kaepernick to make a comfortable read in the option game. I would propose doing the opposite. Pressuring the "Mesh Point" of the option does two things: First, it creates turnover possibilities. Remember, the running back doesn't know if he will get the ball or not. Often under pressure he will clamp down on the ball even though the QB is trying to pull it out. Turnovers happen in the option game, but only when pressured. Secondly, attacking the "Mesh Point" gets you closer to Kaepernick when he executes option 3 and throws the ball. Defensive ends have been frozen by the run action and haven't gotten pressure on the 49ers young QB. If the Ravens sit back, I think they lose. As a former option QB in high school and college, pressure is the only way to attack the option. I know the "Pistol Offense" makes it tougher because the "Mesh Point" happens deeper and quicker, but you have to attack to win.

    3) How much Man Coverage with the 49ers Linebackers Play on Ray Rice? Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis play the most man coverage of any inside linebackers in the NFL. The match-up against Rice will be a tough one. He is an excellent receiver and this will be a fast track. The Ravens rarely flank Rice out of the backfield, but I would not be surprised to see it in this game. The 49ers stayed with their man coverage against the Patriots flanked out running backs earlier this year, and the Patriots have exceptional receiving backs. For Rice to be fresh on third down, Bernard Pierce will have to help carry the load on first downs. Pierce has been terrific in the playoffs and is a physical runner. Rice agrees that Pierce is the key to keeping him explosive on third down.

    4) Big Hitting Safeties: This game has two of the hardest hitting safeties in the game in Donte Whitner and Bernard Pollard. Both will be tested in the middle of the field. It would not surprise me if a fumble caused by one those two safeties decides this game. The flip side is that a key helmet-to-helmet penalty on a defenseless receiver could also play a key role. Watch the fireworks from the safeties in this one.

    5) Kaepernick's Speed on the Turf: Atlanta decided that Kaepernick was not going to beat them running the football. Only once did we see him run on that turf in the dome, but what he showed was impressive. People take wrong angles trying to catch him on turf. Long striders like Kaepernick are always hard to judge. He is always fast, but inside on the turf, he is scary fast. 49ers fans should cheer for Kaepernick to take some early hits. Most people don't realize that getting hit early settles you in big games, especially QBs. I expect the 49ers to run Kaepernick early and often in this one. Last week's game in the dome has to help the 49ers here.

    6) Terrell Suggs: Suggs was last year's Defensive Player of the Year, but he has not had that kind of impact so far this year after his Achilles injury. It is possible that the extra week off will put a little bounce back in his game. With the way that Paul Krugar has been playing on the other side, if Krugar and Suggs are both healthy and fast, this defense will have a look it hasn't had all year. At his best Suggs disrupts and creates turnovers. He has been getting better every week, and this could be his breakout game.

    Enjoy the game. We will talk about it next week.

    Comments 11 Comments
    1. vancemeek's Avatar
      Welcome back Cris. I think Randy Moss could have a few key plays in the game. If Baltimore settles in to stop Kaepernick's runs, Moss will run a few deep balls and have a chance to do what he does best. Kaepernick is tremendous at running the ball, but the dude has a cannon for an arm as well.
    1. wxwax's Avatar
      Hey, look who the cat dragged in! Howdy, Cris, great to hear from you.

      After watching Atlanta their last two games, I feel like your #2 is the biggie. It surprised me that Copernicus really didn't try to run and was able to execute the offense almost perfectly in the 2nd half without ever going to the option.

      I understand that the Falcons deployed their defense to stop the option and that the 49ers took what was left. If the same scenario plays out against the Ravens, I guess there wouldn't be a mesh point to attack?
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Ed Reed. Because Manning and Brady were wise enough not to throw near him, people are fotgetting about Reed. Kaepernick hasnt played against somebody as tricky as Reed.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      I was watching the Read/Option with Washington/Seattle/SF.

      Can the DEs attack that mesh point effectively? Directing into the mesh point means that they steepen their angle away from an upward rush vector outside/thru the Tackle. Which means that the OTackle would get better leverage and can localize all the rush to the short middle so the QB can step out in the clear, for a throw or run.

      Wouldn't the mesh point pressure come from DTs or DE stunts?

      The mesh point is about 4 yards behind the center in a R/O, pistol, whatever today's name for it is, right?
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Darvon, I think the key is containment and not crashing down, but the problem is that the Niner offense is not running just a read option, but they are running it with lead blockers that make the "final play" of the option similar to a trap. This creates different problems in that the lead blocker (FB) can take out the linebacker who is correctly filling his gap, thus making the need for a defensive back to play up much bigger. This is why Kap had 21 yards rushing against Atlanta while Frank Gore had two big runs. Finally, this opens up the defense for play action passes.

      The defense becomes especially vulnerable behind the play on play-action, something Vernon Davis can do well with and something that Kap has the arm strength for. If you throw in the inherent running ability by Kap and his long legs, that is why the offense is so tough to stop and why it couldn't be run as effectively with Alex Smith.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Great stuff, Cris, as usual.
    1. ScottDCP's Avatar
      I honestly never thought Donte Whitner would be a significant participant in a post-season game.
    1. edave's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      The defense becomes especially vulnerable behind the play on play-action, something Vernon Davis can do well with and something that Kap has the arm strength for. If you throw in the inherent running ability by Kap and his long legs, that is why the offense is so tough to stop and why it couldn't be run as effectively with Alex Smith.
      The Packers seemed to attempt both approaches three weeks ago with varying degrees of success (nothing much worked on third down). Matthews is usually not bad in space but Kaepernick made him look silly. The Ravens know what's coming and it'll be fascinating to see how they handle it while trying to hide Ray.
    1. Pruitt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by ScottDCP View Post
      I honestly never thought Donte Whitner would be a significant participant in a post-season game.
      Somewhere Marv Levy is laughing.
    1. SpartaChris's Avatar
      You forgot one: Ted Ginn.
    1. ScottDCP's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
      Somewhere Marv Levy is laughing.
      Not after the first half. They went after him pretty good there. And with some success...

      That looked an awful l lot like the Whitner who played in Buffalo. Tackling a guy after he catches the ball in the end zone/gets a first down.