Super Bowl 2013: Baltimore Ravens Defense Will Neutralize Colin Kaepernick
Kaepernick's exploits in these playoffs have already become legendary.
In only his eighth career start, he ran for 181 yards against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round. The NFC Championship Game saw a much more muted performance from the second-year star, but he still managed to throw for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Now he faces the ultimate test in a Ravens defense that has played inspired football as a result of Ray Lewis' impending retirement. Lewis and Ed Reed aren't the players they once were, but they have enough in the tank for one more run.
The Ravens also know that this is the last chance for Lewis (and probably the last chance for Reed) to win a Super Bowl ring. Few teams in recent memory have turned their performances up in a way the Ravens have.
Baltimore lost four of its last five games in the regular season and now finds itself 60 minutes away from a Super Bowl title.
In order for that to happen, Kaepernick can't have the kind of performances that he's had so far in the postseason. It's long odds for the Ravens, but that's a situation in which they have thrived so far in the playoffs.
Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were both supposed to torch a supposedly suspect Ravens secondary. While the two combined to throw for 610 yards, Brady and Manning each threw two interceptions in their team's losses.
There is certainly a distinct difference between the veterans and the young 49ers star. Kaepernick's legs bring a different dimension than Manning and Brady did, and the 49ers' read-option offense has been wildly successful this season.
However, John Harbaugh and Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees have two weeks to develop a game plan to try and throw Kaepernick off his game. That's more time than any of the coaches before them.
The problem with unique offensive styles like the read-option and Wildcat formations is that the more game film there is, the easier it becomes for the defense to stop.
With Ray Lewis, the Ravens couldn't ask for a better field general who can try and read the 49ers offense at the line of scrimmage and make sure his defenders are in the right positions.
It's hard to envision Kaepernick having an absolutely awful game. He's been such a force so far that completely stopping him altogether might prove impossible.
Instead, all Baltimore needs to do is slow him down. He struggled in the first quarter against the Falcons, and Atlanta had itself a 24-14 lead at halftime.
The adjustments that worked for the 49ers in the second half aren't going to be as useful in the Super Bowl because the Ravens have already seen them.
If this game comes down to Kaepernick, San Francisco could be in real trouble.
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