Super Bowl 2013: San Francisco O-Line Will Be the Difference in 49ers Victory

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIJanuary 23, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (C) #7 of the San Francisco 49ers calls a play in the huddle against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers' offensive line has been simply superb all season long and will lead Jim Harbaugh's men to victory in the 2013 Super Bowl.

This line might won't ever receive the attention or media hype that the likes of Ray Lewis or Colin Kaepernick has in the build-up to the Super Bowl. 

It won't even get the rivalry discussion that the Harbaugh brothers have. But when we're talking about areas in which this game will be won or lost for the two respective teams, this is the battle that Super Bowl XLVII will be decided by.

If the 49ers' offensive line can win the battle of the trenches and hold out the Baltimore Ravens' pass rush, it will pave the way for a championship.

It's as simple as that.

Throughout the regular season, Baltimore's defense struggled against both the pass and the run compared to how it has normally fared defensively. 

The Ravens ranked 20th against the rush and 17th against the pass—averaging roughly 350 total offensive yards per game throughout the year.

It seems, on paper anyway, that their defense will have to now answer the dual-threat of Kaepernick and his ability to move the ball downfield. 

But the biggest need for the Ravens here is not about whether they can restrict the number of yards that Kaepernick will account for. Rather, Baltimore needs to continue to get good and early pressure on the quarterback with its pass rush through the middle of the field.

The Ravens' ability to force turnovers and create sacks has been the biggest difference for them this postseason and the biggest reason why they now stand as the AFC champions. 

Through its three playoff games this year, Baltimore has six sacks, five interceptions and three forced fumbles—all the most by any team this postseason.

It has forced its opponents into making bad decisions with the ball due to its inside pressure, and if it's going to achieve glory in Super Bowl XLVII, then it needs to so again here against the dominant offense of the San Francisco 49ers.

However, the Niners' offensive line is incredibly strong, discipled and organized—the hidden reason behind their dominant attack in the 2013 postseason.

One glance at the numbers (via Pro Football Focus) and it's clear that there are no weaknesses to be exploited in this offensive line. Every player in it is remarkably good at his job, and has the statistics to prove it.

Starting with the tackles, Joe Staley is rated as the best left tackle in the entire league—and better than all the right tackles, as well—with a 40 percent efficiency rating. Anthony Davis, the Niners' starting right tackle, has been the third best player at his position.

The same thing goes with the guards—Alex Boone has been the second-best right guard all year; Mike Iupati the second-best left guard for the season.

Center Jonathan Goodwin also finishes inside the top 10 for efficiency rating, meaning no player in this offensive line ranks worse than 10th across the league.

No other team in the NFL has than kind of claim, and San Francisco will use its offensive line dominance to set up their explosive offense.

Colin Kaepernick's dual-threat ability and Frank Gore's sound running game are both determined by the success of their offensive line. And at the moment, that line is clearly winning the battle at the line of scrimmage against its opponents.

Baltimore's biggest threat this postseason has been its pass rush and its ability to force turnovers because of it, but that isn't going to happen here.

A team that has handled the rush of the Atlanta Falcons and the Clay Matthews-led Green Bay Packers can handle itself once more against Baltimore.

And when it does, expect Kaepernick and the offense to take over—moving the ball downfield with ease and picking up points at the end of it.

Simply put, there's no way that Baltimore can win the 2013 Super Bowl unless it wins the battle of the trenches against the Niners' offensive line.

And judging on what we've seen so far, there's no way that's happening either.


Who will win at the line of scrimmage in the 2013 Super Bowl?

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