Just in case you haven’t heard, there’s a football game on Sunday. You wouldn’t know it if you’ve watched or read the news lately. Since when did the national media become as awful as Fox News or MSNBC?
Issac Sopoaga and Ahmad Brooks are great players on a great defense. They also have a selective memory. Sometimes they forget how to tackle a quarterback for a quarter or two, and other times they don’t remember making a television ad which smeared the likes of good people like Nelson Muntz, Scut Farkus and Mitt Romney.
Look, I think it’s safe to say that people who spend much of their lives in front of cameras usually forget what they say into it 30 seconds later. I’m sure George Lucas has already forgotten all three Star Wars prequels. But to suggest that Brooks’ and Sopoaga’s actions are somehow comparable to Chris Culliver is absurd.
I never felt comfortable leaving Culliver on a receiver in single coverage. But if I’m Jim Harbaugh I don’t let him anywhere near a microphone unless he has four PR guys and a pocket teleprompter.
It’s perplexing that Culliver and Randy Moss don’t seem to know who they play for. A city where one fourth of the population is gay and worships a player who broke every single receiving record during his career and still holds many of those records today.
Honestly, I could care less how about good Randy Moss thinks he is. If he thinks scoring three touchdowns and being named the Super Bowl MVP will prove that he’s hands down the greatest receiver of all time, then that’s what I’ll be cheering for on Sunday.
The knock on Randy is that he’s always had the benefit of having a good quarterback throw him the ball throughout his career. If that’s true then he should have no trouble torching the Ravens' secondary with Kaepernick taking snaps all day under center.
If there’s one thing the Niners can feel better about it’s that Baltimore hasn’t avoided any of the negative press. Joe Flacco thinks he should be paid Peyton Manning, even though he sometimes plays like Blaine Gabbert. He also described the idea of holding a Super Bowl in New York as “retarded.” Maybe Joe had a conversation with John Rocker on the New York subway that rubbed him the wrong way, but he's not visiting the Jersey Shore anytime during the offseason.
Then there’s Ray Lewis. For anyone else, a Super Bowl swan song would be the perfect storybook ending for a future Hall of Famer. Lewis is undoubtedly one of the best linebackers of all time and made an impressive recovery this season from a torn triceps. But in sports there are three types of athletes that fans loathe the most: a cheater, a criminal and an ass. Ray’s been accused of all three, though he’s only been proven to be one.
But since every press conference and every interview he gives seems to be about him, it's refreshing to see him go quiet at the mere mention of any of his past controversies, whether it be a double-murder case or something as irrelevant as deer-antler spray.
So while the Ravens will be psyched up to get their retiring star another Super Bowl title, the 49ers will be equally motivated to put an end to this now.
They have the talent to make it happen on both sides of the ball.
On offense it all starts with Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ delta-oriented attack (Jeez, I have to stop watching Star Trek movies). They can keep running Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon at the Ravens and dominate the time of possession. If Baltimore counters by stacking the box, Colin will have all day to find Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Vernon Davis on the deep routes. If the Ravens actually try to blitz up the middle to create pressure, Kaepernick or LaMichael James could run for a long time before even getting touched.
Run, option, pass, the Niners feature a kaleidoscopic offense that can’t be permanently countered or neutralized. The Ravens defense hasn’t been effective at stopping the run this season, and they haven’t faced one All-Pro running back in the playoffs. The Colts had no one to hand the ball off to, and they still managed to stay in the game until the final five minutes. Denver actually gained some descent yardage on the ground despite being without Willis McGahee, and would have won in regulation if Rahim Moore hadn’t gotten distracted by a kite fight on a Hail Mary pass from Flacco.
New England hasn’t tried running the ball since they traded for Randy Moss six years ago.
Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense have been impressive throughout playoffs. Then you look at who they played. Yes, I know Denver ranked higher than the 49ers in both the run and the pass this year. But then you remember that San Francisco was without Justin Smith for the last two-and-half games of the season and the defense gave up almost 90 points during that stretch. The Broncos also play at Sports Authority Field, where a lot of opposing players spend time vomiting in the locker room before being able to take the field. You can’t tell that me that doesn’t have a negating effect.
The Ravens also ran into some luck in the AFC Championship when Aqib Talib went down with a hip injury in the first quarter. Anquan Boldin then went on to decimate the rest of the Patriots’ horrendous secondary as Baltimore ran away with the game in the second half.
Don’t expect Flacco and Boldin to have the same impact on a physical 49ers secondary. The Niners have gone up against some of the best passing offenses in the regular season and in the playoffs and will bring the heat against a far-less talented receiving corps. Flacco hasn’t thrown one interception so far in the postseason, which means he’s due for about three on Sunday. I also expect little Ray Rice to get swallowed up by the black hole in the 49ers’ front seven.
Those who are picking the Ravens to win this Civil War are going with their hearts. So did the foreigners who picked the Confederates to beat the Union Army.
Both Harbaughs worked hard to get here, but the one with the better team will hoist the trophy.