Super Bowl 2013: Rushing Game Will Be Difference-Maker for San Francisco 49ers

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IJanuary 29, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 12:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers hands the ball to running back Frank Gore #21 against the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Super Bowl XLVII will feature two of the best running backs the NFL has to offer, but the San Francisco 49ers have the immediate edge.

Ray Rice is one of the best in the league—both rushing the ball and catching passes out of the backfield—but the Niners boast a monstrous rushing attack with the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore and rookie LaMichael James.

But let's take a look at where it all starts for San Francisco.

Up front.

According to Football Outsiders, the 49ers own the No. 1 ranked offensive line in the NFL this season.

Combine a stout offensive line with a Pro Bowl running back and a dynamic read-option quarterback and you've got the recipe for success on offense.

San Francisco has sported the best running game throughout the postseason, averaging 6.6 YPC and scoring a gaudy seven touchdowns.

And as ESPN Stats & Info tells us, the 49ers have utilized the option 29 times during the playoffs, and it's been more than effective, averaging 8.4 YPC and culminating into four touchdowns.

That spells trouble for the Ravens, as ESPN Stats & Info again drops this dime on us: Baltimore allowed 6.2 YPC against the read option offense, when it played the Washington Redskins in Week 14.

Kaepernick certainly showed what he can do with his legs against the Green Bay Packers, but Baltimore needs to key in on Gore as well.

Gore is coming off his sixth 1,000-yard season and has been a force come playoff time, totaling 209 yards and three touchdowns in two postseason games.

LaMichael James emerged down the stretch as a threat in San Francisco's offense, showing bursts of speed while gaining big chunks of yardage, most notably against the Atlanta Falcons.

With Kaepernick running like a gazelle and Gore looking to steamroll opposing defenders, Ray Lewis and his defense will be put to the test in the Superdome.

The read option has proved to be one of the most confusing offensive schemes to defend and the 49ers will prove in Super Bowl XLVII why it's here to stay.

Sorry, Ray, but you're not going out with a bang on Sunday.


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