Ravens vs. 49ers: Players That Must Redeem Themselves After Mediocre Season

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Ravens vs. 49ers: Players That Must Redeem Themselves After Mediocre Season
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Even after 20 weeks of NFL games, players can still turn around their year with a big performance in the Super Bowl.

In order for the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens to reach this point, they had to have gotten plenty of big-time performances from many key players. However, the roster still includes a few guys who have struggled throughout the season.

These men can change the narrative of the entire season with a great performance in the Super Bowl. In all likelihood, these types of games will be needed to win on Sunday.

 

Bryant McKinnie, OT, Baltimore

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The veteran tackle spent most of the regular season on the bench as Michael Oher was the one in charge of protecting the blindside of Joe Flacco.

However, the Ravens made an important change late in the year by inserting Bryant McKinnie back into the lineup at left tackle and moving Oher to the right side.

While he has played well so far, there is a reason he did not have the spot all season. He is very inconsistent and has a habit of losing focus on certain plays.

This will not be ideal with both Justin Smith and Aldon Smith on his side. He needs to somehow block this duo in order to allow the quarterback time to throw the ball down the field. 

 

Randy Moss, WR, San Francisco

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It is tough to expect Randy Moss to be the same player he used to be now that he is 35 years old. However, the 49ers need someone else to step up at wide receiver.

Michael Crabtree has been the go-to player throughout the season for both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. This is fine at first, but the defense will start to key on him eventually. At that point, Kaepernick will need somewhere else to throw the ball.

Moss has played better lately, but he has still only topped 50 receiving yards in a game once this season. He has not caught more than three passes since grabbing four in Week 1.

The veteran needs to be a bigger part of this game and make the clutch catches to help his team put up points against this tough defense.

 

Terrell Suggs, LB, Baltimore

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Unlike others on this list, Terrell Suggs has an excuse for his poor play. He injured his Achilles during the offseason and was unlikely to play at all in 2012.

That is at least until he rushed himself back to the field and join the team in Week 7.

Since then, he did little in the regular season to remind people of the Suggs of old. He finished with only two sacks after totaling 14 a year ago. His number of tackles dropped from 70 to only 22.

However, he was a complete monster in the win over the Denver Broncos with 10 solo tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He also played well in the AFC Championship Game.

The Ravens need him to continue his solid play now that he is apparently close to full strength. They need him to get into the backfield and disrupt the 49ers offense throughout the game.

 

David Akers, K, San Francisco

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 49ers did not have many weaknesses this season, but the kicking game was an obvious one. 

David Akers had the worst year of his career, hitting only 69 percent of his 42 attempts. This includes two misses in overtime games that could have netted the team two more wins.

Things have not improved in the postseason either. The kicker missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt in the second half of the NFC Championship Game that fortunately did not cost San Francisco the victory.

In a battle between two tough defenses, a good field goal kicker will certainly be needed. The question is how confident anyone will be when Akers steps onto the field.

Fortunately, he has the ability to change the entire narrative of the season with one big kick if he is able to make one with the game on the line. 

 

Follow me on Twitter for additional analysis leading up to the Super Bowl and beyond. 

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