Super Bowl 2013 is full of great storylines and fun facts. Sure, the Harbaugh brothers definitely make a great story. It is, after all, the very first time two brothers, as head coaches, have faced each other in a Super Bowl. But that's not the only reason why this Super Bowl is so interesting to talk about.
There are many other cool storylines and facts about this upcoming Super Bowl. For instance, the evolution and rise of Colin Kaepernick and the fact that this will be Ray Lewis's last game makes this Super Bowl even more interesting.
But while these are all fun to talk about, one can't help but wonder what will really determine the outcome of the Super Bowl. In other words, do all the storylines and fun facts have anything to do with outcome of this game?
It is the outcome of the game that we are all most interested in, isn't it?
One irrelevant fact about Super Bowl 2013 is that there has been an unnecessary amount of drama surrounding some of the players on both teams. First, there's Ray Lewis's drama, and I'm not talking about his retirement here.
David Epstein and George Dohrmann from Sports Illustrated have accused Lewis of taking banned substances to help out with his torn triceps injury. Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is that the substance is supposed to be some sort of deer-antler spray.
Lewis denies taking any sort of banned substance and whether or not this leads to further investigation is a pointless inquiry; Lewis is done playing for the NFL after the Super Bowl. We'll discuss this fact more a little later.
But the main question is, will this story have any effect on the outcome of the game? Unless this story makes Lewis incredibly angry and his anger turns him into a tackling machine, it seems unlikely it will have any influence on the game.
In other news, 49ers' Chris Culliver also put himself in an uncomfortable situation just a few days before the Super Bowl. According to ESPN, Culliver has been trying to redeem himself by issuing an apology for his anti-gay remarks.
The questions then is whether this story line will have any effect on the Super Bowl. If it affects Culliver's performance in any way, then it might. But it's unclear whether this story is significant enough for us to consider it as a deciding factor in the game.
Unlike the prior slide, this next fact is actually a little more football-related. One of the most interesting aspects of the 49ers's game plan is their use of the pistol offense. Atlanta couldn't stop it; neither could the Packers. Are we really under the impression that an extra week will help the Ravens figure out how to stop the pistol/read-option?
The 49ers offense under Kaepernick is almost unpredictable. Against Green Bay, Kaepernick ran for over 180 yards. But against Atlanta—where former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan now coaches as the defensive coordinator—the Falcons had no idea how to stop Kaepernick's pass attack in the second half of the NFC Championship. Kaepernick threw it deep and over the middle to pick up huge chunk of yardage. And it wasn't Kaepernick that ran the ball; it was Frank Gore and LaMichael James.
Didn't Nolan coach at Baltimore too? Relevant? I'm not convinced.
The point is that the Ravens can look at all the film they want—there's no guarantee that a team will be able to figure out how team will run its offense with an extra week, especially if that team's offense continues to evolve.
One may argue that the only time that the 49ers looked like they weren't evolving under Kaepernick is when they were blown out by the Seahawks in Seattle. Well, it's been a long time since that lost and the 49ers have looked a lot better ever since.
Some might argue that Ray Lewis will be quite the difference maker in this Super Bowl. But if we are talking about his ability to make plays, then I completely disagree.
Let's get real here. Do we really think that Lewis himself will be able to stop Kaepernick and this pistol offense?
There's a reason why athletes retire. It's because they're getting old and tired and can't play like they were once able to. Lewis knows this. He knows that he's not as fast as he once was. Lewis knows that he might struggle chasing down Kaepernick and bringing him down.
The only influence Lewis will have on this game is his ability to inspire and motivate his teammates. The Ravens will play well because they're a good football team with a great coach. Sure, the team will play hard for Lewis because they respect him, but if the Ravens win, it won't be because Lewis had an amazing football game.
There are some significant differences between the first time these two brothers met and this upcoming Super Bowl game. For one thing, we’re talking about the Super Bowl, not a regular-season game. Secondly, we can’t possibly think that history repeats itself every time two teams play each other. If that were true, then the Ravens would be favorites in this game. But they’re not.
Last season, the 49ers beat the New York Giants earlier in the season and then lost to that same team in the NFC Championship. What does this mean? Teams change, evolve and sometimes develop. Sometimes, teams learn from their mistakes and of course, sometimes they don’t. But we also cannot ignore the significant roster changes made on the 49ers, particularly at quarterback.
The first time these Harbaugh brothers met, Alex Smith was behind center. The 49ers defense and run game were significant factors in how they won football games. Of course, Smith’s short but consistent passes helped a bit, especially when he was throwing the ball to Vernon Davis. But the offense, now under Kaepernick, has taken on a new look. In fact, the Ravens are not going to have worry as much about Davis as they will about the Kaepernick-Crabtree connection this weekend.
Randy Moss? Yes, with Kaepernick throwing the ball, I'm sure the Ravens will have to worry about him too.
So what if the 49ers are 5-0 in all Super Bowl appearances? What does this fact have to do with the 2012-2013 49ers?
This team now doesn't look anything like the Niners that won five Super Bowls. There's no talk about a West Coast offense. There's no Joe Montana, Bill Walsh, Jerry Rice or Steve Young. Those guys are long gone. In fact, it's been 18 years since the 49ers won a Super Bowl.
So to say that this fact—that the Niners are 5-0 in Super Bowl appearances—is relevant to this Sunday's game is simply misleading. This Niners teams is completely different than the '80s and '90s 49ers. The pistol offense is what we associate with 49ers now. Colin Kaepernick is the quarterback and Frank Gore is the all-time leading rusher in franchise history. And the head coach is now Jim Harbaugh.
While it's impressive that the 49ers won all five of their Super Bowl appearances, the current roster has no connection to the team that won all those Super Bowls. Thus, what happens this weekend has nothing to do with those Niners; the only Niners that will influence the game are the ones listed under the 2012-2013 roster. Let them make their own history.