Again, with the help of Josh Michael over at Ravens101.com, we get an inside look at the Baltimore Ravens team. This time he has been kind enough to answer some key questions regarding special teams and coaches. With this final installment of Insider Report, 49ers101 wishes Josh and the Ravens the best of luck, and I look forward to a great game.
1. Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones is by far the most productive kick returner in the league with 1,167 yards, over a 30 yard average per return, and two touchdowns to his credit during the regular season. He obviously gives the Ravens offense great field position. Do you think it will at all alter the Ravens offensive effectiveness if the 49ers choose not to kick it Jones?
Before the AFC Championship game I would have told you it could alter the Ravens offensive effectiveness if San Francisco kicked away from Jones, but against New England, Baltimore started several of their offensive drives inside their own 20 yardline and still drove down the field multiple times. Jacoby struggled on kick returns in that AFC Championship game pinning Baltimore inside their own 15 yardline on a few returns and Baltimore’s offense still performed well, so I do not believe it will alter their effectiveness, but they would still love shorter fields to work with.
2. Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker has been nearly automatic this year, going 30-33 during the regular season. But with only four field goal attempts in his last four games, is it fair to say that his production has been limited by the new offensive system created by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell?
I wouldn’t say his production has been limited by Jim Caldwell, his product has been limited because the Ravens offense is scoring touchdowns in the red zone, thus limiting the number of field goal attempts. Baltimore has scored a touchdown in each of their last eight trips to the red zone, which is just phenomenal, but has also kept Tucker on the sidelines.
3. In terms of "a double edged sword", would the 49ers more likely benefit from kicking to Jones or allowing Tucker to kick multiple field goals?
Interesting question, but I would say the answer is obvious in that the 49ers would benefit more if they allow Tucker to kick multiple field goals because that would mean they are keeping Baltimore out of the end zone. I mean two field goals gets beaten by one touchdown, so limiting the damage by allowing Tucker to kick multiple field goals would greatly out-benefit the idea of kicking to Jones.
4. Besides being his older brother, is there any distinct coaching advantage that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh have over his brother 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh?
If there is one distinct advantage that John has over Jim in this game is that John has experienced a Super Bowl as a coach when he was the Special Teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, so he knew more of what to expect in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and how the elongated pre-game warm ups and halftime of a Super Bowl can be used to a team’s advantage.
5. Final prediction for the Super Bowl?
First, let me just say that this should be one heck of a football game on Sunday, both teams are physical, well coached, and have the ability to be explosive on offense. I believe this game is going to come down to the one obvious advantage that the Ravens have over the 49ers and that is their kicker, Justin Tucker as he has been spectacular this season, whereas David Akers has been brutal for San Francisco. I believe Tucker nails two clutch field goals and Baltimore wins 27-17 for their second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
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