Super Bowl XLVII Live Chat
Join us at 5 p.m. for live coverage of the Super Bowl as the 49ers and Ravens go head to head!
Live chat hosted by Jacqueline LeBlanc
Bearing News’ Prediction: The 49ers win a close one 27-24
At this time last year, any hopes of a Harbaugh Bowl–a matchup between head coaches and brothers John and Jim Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers– were abruptly put to an end when the Harbaugh’s seasons were finished after crushing defeats to the New England Patriots and New York Giants in the American Football Conference and National Football Conference Championship games.
This year, however, the football gods must have decided that the pairing of brother against brother in the biggest game of the year was too good to miss and elevated the Harbaughs to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
One of America’s most anticipated games, Super Bowl XLVII promises to deliver excitement leading up to the memorable today. Not only is it the first Super Bowl that two brothers have coached against each other, but it will also be the place of future Hall of Famer Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ final game. Factor in second-year 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started midway through the season in favor over Alex Smith and ensued one of the greatest quarterback controversies in a long time, and the Super Bowl is guaranteed to be just as exciting as last year’s much anticipated sequel between the New England Patriots and New York Giants.
The 49ers started off their season strong with a record of 6-2 with quarterback Alex Smith. Yet, after suffering from a concussion midway through a game against the St. Louis Rams in week 10, Kaepernick took over for Smith and ended the game in a rare 24-24 tie. With Smith still recovering the next week, Kaepernick started against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football and won the game 32-7, completing 16 of 23 passes for 246 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Even when Smith was cleared to return, Coach Jim Harbaugh continued to start Kaepernick over Smith, even though Smith was ranked third overall in passer rating, led the league in completion percentage and was 19-5-1 as a starter.
As a result, the 49ers finished their season with a record of 11-4-1 and a No. 2 seed in the NFC. Kaepernick continued to impress with his first win in the postseason over the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round, 45-31. Kaepernick and the 49ers came from behind against the Atlanta Falcons in the conference championship game on Jan.20, winning 28-24 and advancing to the Super Bowl.
On the other hand, the Baltimore Ravens began their year 10-2, however went on a losing streak in December winning only one out of five games. The Ravens slipped from being the No. 1 seed to the No. 4, and their dismal December, as well as the loss of Ray Lewis to a torn tricep led many to believe that the Ravens’ chances for a run to the Super Bowl were limited. Yet, the Ravens stunned many when they traveled to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the No. 1 seeded Denver Broncos in the Mile High Stadium. With Ray Lewis’ announcement of his return and retirement at the end of the year, the possibility of his last game made for an emotional event for Baltimore and their fans.
After a thrilling game and constant exchanges of scores, Baltimore was able to force overtime. In fifteen minutes of overtime play, neither team was able to produce any points, resulting in the first NFL double overtime in the playoffs since 2003. 1:42 into the second overtime, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal, lifting the Baltimore Ravens to a 38-35 victory. With their victory, the Ravens traveled to Foxboro, Mass. to take on the New England Patriots in what would be a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. Last year, the Ravens lost 23-20 to the Patriots after former Raven’s kicker Billy Cundiff failed to make a 32 yard field goal to force overtime in the closing seconds of the game, ending the Raven’s season and securing a Super Bowl berth for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Although the Ravens came close to possibly beating the Patriots last year, and having beaten them in Foxboro in week 3 of the regular season, the Patriots were eight-point favorites going into the game. New England was up 13-7 at the end of the first half, however with absences of tight end Rob Gronkowski, cornerback Aqib Talib, and running back Stevan Ridley to injury, as well as ill-timed miscues, the Patriots failed to score any points during the second half, shockingly losing 28-13 to the Ravens.
Although both teams stand equally qualified for the title, the 49ers have a little more experience in the category of Super Bowl performance. The last time the 49ers made a Super Bowl appearance was in 1995 against the San Diego Chargers. The 49ers prevailed by a 49-26 score, making it their fifth win out of five Super Bowl appearances. If the 49ers were to win, they would become the only franchise to be 6-0 in the Super Bowl, and would be tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl titles. The Ravens made their first Super Bowl appearance in 2000 as the “new Baltimore Ravens,” Baltimore easily defeated the New York Giants 34-7. At the time, four year veteran Ray Lewis made three solo tackles, two assists, and blocked four passes, becoming the second linebacker to be named Super Bowl MVP. If the Ravens were to win, one of the most iconic defensive backs to ever play the game would end his career with his second Super Bowl victory.
However for this Super Bowl, both teams come into the game playing their best play in years. Both teams are known for their spectacular defenses, and while Baltimore’s defense continues to battle injury and old age, it hasn’t really affected them in the playoffs. The Ravens, 49ers and the Harbaughs met each other on Thanksgiving during the 2011 NFL season, as John Harbaugh and the Ravens pulled off the win after a somewhat bland game with a score of 16-6. This time around, however, Flacco is considered to finally have reached his prime of his five year career and is playing his best football. On the other side of the ball, the 49ers now have Kaepernick, who is beginning to resemble a young Tom Brady. Brady and Kaepernick’s stories are somewhat similar in that Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2001 as a second year player after replacing starter Drew Bledsoe because of injury at the beginning of the season.
Kaepernick’s ability to be an effective passer, along with his on point mobility in the pocket, is what makes him such an impressive starter and may have changed Jim Harbaugh’s mind about him in the first of the season. With targets like Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Randy Moss, as well as Frank Gore on the ground, San Francisco’s offense has the potential to be explosive during the Super Bowl. During the NFC Divisional Game against the Green Bay Packers, Kaepernick rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the record for most rushing yards in a game by an NFL quarterback and becoming the third player to rush for two touchdowns and throw for two touchdowns in a playoff game. If Kaepernick is able to put up impressive numbers in the air and on the ground, it will be difficult for the aging Baltimore defense to keep up with.
The 49ers defense, led by Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith will be a match for Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offensive line. The offensive line will be key in protecting Flacco and giving him the time needed to throw accurate deep passes. Flacco has been criticized for not always being a consistent passer, but in Flacco’s defense, the plays that the Ravens playbook utilizes are not always the easiest. Because of his strong arm, Joe Flacco is able to make dangerous deep throws if he is given enough protection and time. If the offensive line can hold off against the 49ers, Joe Flacco would be given enough time to execute big plays on offense with targets like Anquan Bolden and Torrey Smith, as well as allowing holes for running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce to run. Flacco has also proved throughout the playoffs that he has the ability to come back from behind.
At the end of the Divisional game against the Broncos, Denver was up 35-28 with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Flacco drove his team midway up the field and on a third down- and-three in a last effort attempt to tie the game, Flacco hurled a 70-yard Hail Mary pass down the field to wide receiver Jacoby Jones. Astonishingly, Jones was able to get in front of two defenders and run to the end zone to force overtime with 31 seconds left in regulation. Regardless of how well the 49ers defense plays, this explosion on offense would be detrimental to San Francisco.
Although spectacular defenses, the offense will be the deciding factor in the game tonight. Many have scrutinized Joe Flacco throughout his career, and many believe that Kaepernick is either underrated or overrated, so it only makes sense that these two young quarterbacks prove how talented they really are in the most important game of their life. The most highly anticipated game of year will definitely be one of the most exciting.
By Jacqueline LeBlanc