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Willis is a better player than his counterpart on Baltimore, without all the phony hype and sermonizing.
The Ravens' defense has been hyped forever, but in recent seasons the numbers haven't really warranted that kind of praise, and in reality their offensive has been the main reason they've been so successful.
Sure, they have future Hall of Famers in Ray Lewis, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and safety Ed Reed, and outstanding performers in edge rusher Terrell Suggs, safety Bernard Pollard, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and (when healthy) corner Lardarius Webb.
But most of those guys are well past their primes (Lewis, Reed and Ngata), playing hurt (Lewis, Ngata and Suggs) or in Webb's case, out for the season with a torn ACL.
Lewis, who will retire after this game, is 37-years-old and playing with a torn triceps. Reed is 34. Ngata just turned 29 and missed two games with a balky knee. Suggs, 30, tore his Achilles in the offseason and still isn't 100-percent.
The Ravens ranked 17th overall in yards allowed during the season and tied for 12th with the New York Giants in points allowed. They were tied for 15th in sacks, 19th in interceptions and forced just 25 turnovers all season long.
Anyway you slice it, it was a mediocre defense.
The 49ers, by contrast, ranked third in the league in total defense and second in points allowed, while finishing with more sacks, more interceptions and just as many takeaways.
Their defense doesn't have the "names" that the Ravens do, but by and large they're younger and healthier.
Patrick Willis, who wears No. 52 in tribute to Lewis, is 27 and has been a Pro Bowler in each of his six seasons as a pro.
Willis' running mate inside, NaVorro Bowman, is already a two-time All-Pro and is three years younger than Ellerbe.
Dashon Goldson is a two-time Pro Bowler and a ball-hawking, physical safety in the Reed mold, and just 28 years old.
Aldon Smith is the team's designated edge rusher and finished second in the league to J.J. Watt with 19.5 sacks. He just turned 23.
The one graybeard on the 49ers defense is tackle Justin Smith, 33, who like Lewis is playing with a torn triceps. Still, Smith is Lewis' polar opposite when it comes to self-promotion, so when he gets named to Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams, you know he gets there on merit rather than hype.
Finally, all of the 49ers corners are completely healthy, unlike the Ravens, including Chris Culliver, their best young corner and every bit the player that Webb is.
Maybe after the Super Bowl, the Niners defensive crew will get the attention they're due.