Both the 49ers and Ravens will need to rely on several impact players in order to win this Super Bowl. However, let's look at four names who aren't as obvious that could make a huge difference in this game.
Wide Receiver Torrey Smith
After routinely burning Champ Bailey and the Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional Round, Smith had a decent game against the Patriots secondary with four catches and 69 yards.
However, the 49ers secondary has had a troubling trend of allowing big plays throughout the playoffs. Smith’s world-class speed will present a problem for the 49ers cornerback who is covering him, whether it’d be Carlos Rogers or Tarell Brown. Additionally, expect safeties Donte Whitner or Dashon Goldson to play over the top just to ensure Smith doesn’t burn them.
The fact that the 49ers have to completely change their defense to focus on one guy could open up several lanes for the other Ravens weapons.
Center Jonathan Goodwin
While Ravens interior lineman Haloti Ngata is having a down season, he still has the ability to disrupt an entire offense’s rhythm. Goodwin will have the tough task of blocking Ngata throughout the Super Bowl. He allowed only two sacks this entire season and is the leader of a stout offensive line in which all five offensive linemen have played in every single game.
Colin Kaepernick has only been sacked twice this postseason, and the 49ers have to make sure to limit Ravens pass rush.
Outside Linebacker Aldon Smith
While the 49ers have only allowed two sacks this postseason, they’ve also only sacked the quarterback twice, too. The lack of quarterback pressure is in large part due to the disappearance of Smith.
After a monstrous regular season, which included 19.5 sacks, Smith has been very quiet in these past two playoff games with zero sacks and just three tackles. Joe Flacco has been sacked three times this postseason, and all of them have been by linebackers.
Of course, a healthier Justin Smith will help, but the 49ers need to be able to rattle Flacco in the pocket. He’s played very well this postseason, in no small part to his protection and great decision making.
Cornerback Cary Williams
After Lardarius Webb went down with an ACL tear, many people thought the Ravens secondary wouldn’t be able to hold their own after losing their best cornerback. However, Williams had four interceptions in the regular season and has turned into a strong cover corner. He was matched up with Brandon Lloyd yesterday and held him to only 70 yards. Williams also got the game-sealing interception in the end zone.
In the Super Bowl, he will have the daunting task of covering Michael Crabtree. Crabtree, in two postseason games, has accumulated 176 yards and two touchdowns on 15 catches. Williams will need to shutdown Kaepernick’s favorite target to slow down the 49ers’ passing game.
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