Our friend over at Ravens101.com, head writer Josh Michael, has once again been kind enough to answer a few questions for 49ers nation. This time the focus was on the defensive side of the ball and the expectations going into the Super Bowl. To view the questions and answers that Josh had asked of 49ers101.com, please visit his column at Ravens101.com.
1. With the retirement of Ray Lewis firmly in the minds of all the Ravens players. How big of a role does that particular emotion play in the game? And can it play against the defense in any way?
The emotion of Ray retiring is certainly influential during the week and even in pregame, but once the game starts, I am not sure it has any affect at all. This defense is thinking about stopping the offense on every snap of the game, and not thinking about the fact of Lewis retiring at the end of the season. I believe there is no way it plays against the defense in anyway, and mostly because of the way Ray himself has been playing this postseason as he has led all tacklers in every game the Ravens have played this postseason.
2. With 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick so elusive, would there be any logic to the Ravens not blitzing as often, to reduce the possibilty of over running him?
I believe there is plenty of logic to the Ravens not blitzing as often, especially on non-passing situations. The key of this game for Baltimore’s defense is in your question, the Ravens cannot over the play, and must stay behind the football when you are facing the read option.
3. Where, if any, is there a definitive weakness in the Ravens defense that the 49ers offense could take advantage of?
Honestly, the one weakness that this defense has is that they give up plenty of yards and are not afraid to do so because of this team’s great red zone defense. Baltimore was 21st in the league in average yards allowed per game, but were 9th in points allowed per game proving that they will give up yards, but keep their opponents from scoring touchdowns. Thus the 49’ers can take advantage of that willingness to give up yards, but will have to find ways to put the ball in the endzone rather than settling for field goals, especially with David Akers’ struggles this season.
4. Not that anyone could tell from an outsiders perspective, but as someone with intimate Ravens knowledge, is the production of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ed Reed at all hampered by age?
No, No, and sort of. Lewis, was having a great year before he tore his triceps and once he came back in the playoffs he has been a machine in regards to tackles, so age has not seemed to affect his production and big factor to that could be that he shed some weight this offseason in order to remain an every down linebacker and it seems to have paid huge dividends. In regards to Suggs, age is not a factor in his lack of production this season, I have no doubt that he has been affected this season purely because of injuries. He tore his Achilles in the offseason and came back in just six months and then later this season he tore his biceps. Don’t forget, last year he was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, so age is not a factor in his production thus far. Reed is an interesting case, I am not sure if it is age or the fact that his body is a walking example of an injury report. Ed’s body has taken a beating in his 11 years, and thus I feel it is a combination of age and injuries that are affecting his production, but he is still a threat every play to make that game changing play, but his ability to make that play has slowed.
5. Is there any one area of the defense that concerns you when playing the 49ers specifically? And if you could, how would you change it?
There is one area of the defense that concerns me in this game against San Francisco and that is Kaepernick’s ability to run the football. When this Ravens team plays a very mobile quarterback they seem to struggle. If Paul Kruger, Suggs, and Courtney Upshaw can play responsible football and take care of their assignment and set the edge, then this defense should be set up to have a big game, but if the pass rush happy trio over pursues the football, Kaepernick could have a big day running the football.
6. The Ravens win the Super Bowl if they defensively…
Not to be repetitive here, but the Ravens will win the Super Bowl if they play disciplined defense by not over pursuing the football, set the edge, and make Kaepernick throw the ball to beat them. If the Ravens defense can contain the overall rushing attack of the 49ers, Baltimore will win this football game.
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