Ravens vs. 49ers: San Francisco Grades, Notes and Quotes
The San Francisco 49ers improve to 2-4 after an exciting 25-20 victory over the 1-5 Baltimore Ravens in Week 6—a game that saw the continuation of a strong offensive performance from the 49ers along with plenty of fireworks.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick made some mistakes but looked more like the signal-caller seen in Week 5 compared to what has been seen in prior games. And the 49ers offense continued its strong efforts at home against a desperate Ravens squad.
Baltimore attempted a comeback late in the fourth quarter, but unlike Week 5 in New Jersey, the 49ers defense held and gave head coach Jim Tomsula his second victory on the season.
The 49ers needed this victory over a subpar opponent, and it's a good sign to see San Francisco close out ballgames.
Let's break down San Francisco's effort and take a look at what the players are saying after their Week 6 effort.
Position Grades for 49ers
San Francisco's primary storyline from this contest will be the continuation of its strong offensive effort and the impact of former Ravens wide receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin.
Smith and Boldin had 96 and 102 receiving yards, respectively. And quarterback Colin Kaepernick's 76-yard touchdown pass to Smith helped give the 49ers offense plenty of first-half momentum from which they continued to build.
Wide receiver Quinton Patton, whose fourth-quarter touchdown wound up being the game-winning score, also had a nice impact.
The 49ers weren't able to establish much of a running game, with running back Carlos Hyde totaling just 55 yards on the ground. But fullback Bruce Miller did have a solid effort with 89 yards through the air on three receptions.
Defensively, San Francisco struggled to contain Ravens veteran receiver Steve Smith who totaled 137 yards and a touchdown during the effort. And the 49ers' pass-rushing woes continued as the defense failed to record a single sack of Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco.
The 49ers were able to generate two turnovers, though, as linebacker Michael Wilhoite and cornerback Kenneth Acker had an interception apiece.
And kicker Phil Dawson was a big part of the offense having nailed four field goals on four attempts.
Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith Torch Former Team
Wideouts Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith haunted their former Ravens team with a combined 198 yards on eight receptions over the course of the game.
Smith's 76-yard touchdown reception over the head of former 49ers cornerback Shareece Wright helped set the tempo for San Francisco's offense. And the 49ers regularly picked on their former cornerback for great results.
Tyler Emerick of 49ers.com described what happened on Smith's big reception:
Early in the second quarter, Kaepernick hit Smith deep downfield for a 76-yard touchdown. Smith beat his defender, Wright, and hauled in the perfectly-thrown pass in stride en route to the end zone.
The highlight play came with San Francisco lined up in a power run formation. Kaepernick sold the play-action and found the open receiver for the long score.
The touchdown set a new career-long reception for Smith for the second time this season. The free-agent acquisition caught a 75-yard touchdown versus the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this year.
Smith had just three receptions over the course of the game, and Boldin was the receiving target who helped set up wideout Quinton Patton's crucial fourth-quarter score.
Boldin hauled in a 51-yard reception from Kaepernick and, despite coming out of the game with a minor injury, helped set up San Francisco's final scoring play.
And it turned out to be the game-winner.
The 49ers' top tandem ended up being a huge factor in San Francisco's Week 6 victory and will need to continue the prowess as the 49ers get ready to host the visiting Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
Bruce Miller Gets Involved
Fullback Bruce Miller was equally important to the 49ers' first-half efforts..
Miller had largely been a non-factor during San Francisco's first five games. But he successfully impacted the offense from the start against Baltimore.
The veteran fullback had three receptions for 89 yards—an average of 29.7 yards per reception.
His biggest came on a critical 3rd-and-1 attempt in the first quarter. Miller broke free for a 52-yard reception from quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The effort was Miller's highest single-game performance, per Taylor Price of 49ers.com. Miller had just three catches for 30 yards entering the contest.
Baltimore struggled to cover the fullback early in the contest, and Kaepernick had no problems using him as a relief option when needed.
Colin Kaepernick Continues to Build in Week 6
In Week 5, quarterback Colin Kaepernick passed for 262 yards and two touchdowns. His Week 6 results against the Ravens were even better.
Kaepernick finished the game with 340 yards through the air on 16 completions. He also had two touchdowns against zero interceptions.
Granted, the Ravens defense nearly picked off Kaepernick a couple of times. But his 128.2 passer rating during the game is the best the quarterback has had all season.
The 49ers seemed to let Kaepernick utilize more of his strengths this week rather than making him focus on his weaknesses—an element that has largely worked in back-to-back weeks. And to see Kaepernick take advantage of some deep-threat passes (the 76-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Torrey Smith is a perfect example) is a positive sign moving forward.
Taylor Price of 49ers.com broke down Kaepernick's efforts during the game:
The 49ers did a great job of building on Kaepernick's strong outing in New York last week. Geep Chryst dialed up several rollout throws and quick-hitters in the first quarter. Kaepernick threw for 127 yards in the first quarter and completed nine passes. Kaepernick later launched a 76-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the second quarter. Kaepernick finished the first half with 12 completions and 225 passing yards while the 49ers built a 16-6 advantage.
San Francisco did have some difficulty in the red zone, however, and Kaepernick's woes were apparent for much of the game. The 49ers were 0-of-3 in red-zone appearances, so look for San Francisco to try and improve in this area.
Jim Tomsula on His Team's Efforts
The Ravens entered the contest with a 1-4 record and a plethora of significant injuries to their roster.
Still, Baltimore remained in the contest until the final play, and a last-second pass to the end zone could have forced 49ers fans to recall what happened to San Francisco the week before against the New York Giants.
Fortunately, the 49ers defense held and, combined with the offense's efforts, the team came away with a much-needed victory.
"Obviously very happy with the win," head coach Jim Tomsula stated (via the team's website). "The guys played hard till end. Much respect to the Baltimore Ravens and the way they played."
What's notable about this is San Francisco's efforts in closing out the game—something it was unable to do in Week 5.
Despite giving up yet another 100-plus-yard receiving effort on defense (Ravens wideout Steve Smith had 137 yards), the 49ers were able to limit the damage enough to ensure they would come away with the victory.
“It’s a good team," Tomsula added (via Dieter Kurtenbach of KNBR 680). "It’s a good group of guys who are willing to earn it.”
Even if the Ravens are going through tough times, the 49ers did showcase plenty of positive abilities from their win on Sunday.
And they'll need every bit of that in advance of Week 7 against the Seahawks.
Anquan Boldin on His Big Game
One may have figured playing against the Ravens would give veteran wideout Anquan Boldin some added motivation in Week 6.
And the results back up this theory.
Boldin's biggest reception came on his 51-yard reception which, unfortunately, resulted in the veteran coming off the field. But Boldin later noted (via 49ers.com) he merely "knocked the wind" out of himself on the play.
Both Boldin and fellow WR Torrey Smith found themselves matched up against cornerback Shareece Wright, whom the 49ers released earlier during the week. And Boldin was clear about trying to exploit Wright's weaknesses during the game.
"Practicing with Wright was a big deal with this big performance," Boldin said (via Niners Nation). "You understand his weaknesses as well as his strengths."
The 49ers exploited Wright's coverage abilities in the fifth-year veteran's first game with the Ravens.
Yet, part of this approach was due to quarterback Colin Kaepernick being able to find his receiving targets.
"Kap did a great job of getting outside the pocket and making things happen," Boldin added (via the team's website).
Back-to-back positive efforts with the passing game are a promising indication the 49ers offense is moving in the right direction compared to what was seen in Weeks 3 and 4.
And Boldin will, assuredly, want this trend to continue.
Kaepernick on the Win and Preparing for Week 7
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick's Week 6 efforts were, by far, the best of the 2015 season.
While San Francisco's signal-caller still has improvements to be made, signs are pointing in the right direction compared to his forgettable performances earlier this season.
"We're a 2-4 football team that needs to get some more wins," he said. "We're gradually picking up momentum. We're playing better and better. It's something we have to continue."
A 340-yard passing performance is an indication San Francisco's signal-caller is getting better, despite all that has taken place during the offseason and early in the year. But it's a challenge that will continue as the 49ers prepare to host the 2-4 Seahawks on Thursday Night Football.
"We need this win Thursday," Kaepernick added (via the team's website).
Kaepernick owns a 2-4 regular-season record against Seattle and has a career-high 53.7 passer rating against the Seahawks over that span.
At least his performance in Week 6 will give the quarterback some much-needed momentum in advance of the prime-time matchup.
Peter Panacy is a Featured Columnist covering the San Francisco 49ers for Bleacher Report. Follow him @PeterPanacy on Twitter.