Super Bowl 2013: Comparing Ravens' and 49ers' Offenses by Position
So, which one is better?
During the regular season, these two units were tough to separate. The Ravens ranked 10th in the NFL with 398 points scored, while the 49ers were one point back with 397.
In the playoffs, both sides have done even better as they are each averaging over 30 points per game.
However, the best way to judge these two offenses is to break them down by position.
It is difficult to argue with Joe Flacco's record as a starting quarterback. He has won a playoff game in every year of his career and is currently 8-4 in the postseason.
While he does not have the numbers to compete with the top quarterbacks in the league statistically, he still wins games.
On the other hand, the same could be said for Colin Kaepernick. Although he only has nine career starts (including playoffs), he has won seven of them. In only half of a season as a starting quarterback, he has led his team to the Super Bowl.
The 49ers' starter has also shown that he is not intimidated by his lack of experience. He rushed for 181 yards in his first career playoff game, and followed that up with a come-from-behind victory on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.
Kaepernick plays like a veteran, which takes away any advantage that Flacco has between the two. He is also a more efficient passer and can beat teams with both his arm and his legs.
In total QBR, which gives a score to everything a quarterback does to help his team win, Kaepernick finished the regular season third in the league behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Flacco ranked No. 25.
Flacco has played well in the playoffs, but he will not have as big of an impact as Kaepernick in this game.
This positional battle is arguably the closest on either side of the football. Both Frank Gore of the 49ers and Ray Rice of the Ravens have been among the best in the league for years.
Although Gore is getting up there in age, he is still incredibly difficult to bring down and finished with more rushing yards this season than all but one other time in his eight-year career.
In addition, San Francisco has gotten some late help in the backfield with LaMichael James. The speedy runner did not see the field until December, but he has made a big impact since his arrival. He provides a change of pace and has the ability to break long runs at any time.
However, this group cannot compete with the Ravens at either of the top two spots on the running back depth chart.
Rice had a down year, but he is still incredibly dangerous whenever he touches the football. He is a powerful runner that is also a great receiver out of the backfield, and he can pick up big chunks of yards either through the air or on the ground.
When the starter does have an off day, Baltimore can feel comfortable giving the ball to rookie Bernard Pierce. In the last five games, Pierce is averaging 76.2 yards per game.
It is hard to go wrong with either side, but the Ravens have the decisive advantage at running back.
Even including tight end Vernon Davis, the 49ers do not have a very deep receiving corps. In fact, Michael Crabtree doubled everyone else on the roster in both receiving yards and catches during the regular season.
When the ball does not go to one of these two, it is usually a rare target for either Delanie Walker or Randy Moss.
As well as Crabtree has been playing recently—over 100 yards and two touchdowns in three of the last five games—there is not enough help around him.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have two top-level receivers who are each capable of big games. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith complement each other perfectly and make it more difficult for defenses to protect the offense.
When the outside receivers are covered, tight end Dennis Pitta comes through with a big game. The third-year player surprisingly finished with more catches, receiving yards and touchdowns than Davis, the former Pro Bowler.
Even if Crabtree has been more effective individually, the Ravens provide more depth and therefore have an advantage in the receiving corps.
One of the most underrated moves of the end of the season has been the Ravens' changes on the offensive line.
The team strengthened the unit late in the year by adding Bryant McKinnie to the lineup and moving Michael Oher to right tackle. This has led to better pass protection, which in turn gives Flacco more time to complete throws down the field.
At this point, the Ravens have an offensive line that can almost compete with the 49ers, but not quite.
San Francisco turned a former weakness into a strength by using three first-round picks on big guys up front. It is not a coincidence that the squad started to win more consistently shortly after.
Both left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Mike Iupati were named to the Pro Bowl this season, and the right side of the line is not far behind. This group exceeds at run blocking, and the push the players get would allow any running back to succeed.
When it comes to the battle of the trenches, the 49ers win almost every time. The Super Bowl should be no different.
When it comes to an overall ability to score, the 49ers behind Colin Kaepernick are among the best in the league. They boast a dynamic offense that can beat teams on the ground or through the air, and there are very few weaknesses in the starting lineup.
There are certain things that the Ravens do very well, like completing deep passes. However, a good pass rush or solid safety help could shut down this strength.
It is much tougher to defend San Francisco as the squad can move the football in many different ways.
The 49ers have the advantage at the important positions, and it helps give them the overall edge in this battle between top offenses.
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