Colin Kaepernick presents puzzle for Ravens’ defense
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org February 1, 2013 11:16PM
RAVENS VS. 49ERS
5:30 P.M. Sunday, Ch. 2
Updated: March 3, 2013 6:16AM
NEW ORLEANS — After Colin Kaepernick gained a quarterback-record 181 rushing yards against the Green Bay Packers in the divisional playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons designed a game plan to contain the San Francisco 49ers mobile QB in the NFC championship.
But the 49ers threw off the Falcons, throwing out of formations they previously had run out of and pounding running back Frank Gore up the middle as defenders protected the edges to corral Kaepernick. In the 49ers’ 28-24 comeback victory over the Falcons, Kaepernick completed 16 of 21 passes for 233 yards with one touchdown pass and no turnovers.
“There wasn’t a need to be too physical with him because he played with his arm,” said Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud, who said leading up to the NFC title game that the defenders needed to be physical with the quarterback. “We went out there and tried to execute.
“We had some adjustments at halftime. He didn’t do some of the things he did on tape.”
That, 49ers tight end Delanie Walker said, was his team’s game plan.
“We got one of the best offensive coordinators in the game [Greg Roman],” Walker said, “so you might think we’re doing one thing and we’re doing another.”
So what will the 49ers do Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII?
There’s no telling. The 49ers have had an extra week to prepare. The Ravens’ ability to defend Kaepernick could be the key to the game.
And don’t live in the past: This isn’t the hard-hitting Ravens defense of old.
The Ravens were slightly below average this season, ranking 17th and doing very little at an elite level.
They were impressive in the playoffs, but the three quarterbacks they faced, while very talented, aren’t nearly as fleet-footed as Kaepernick. In fact, the last mobile quarterback they faced was Robert Griffin III in Week 14, a 31-28 loss to the Washington Redskins.
In the first quarter, the Redskins’ read-option dominated with 186 yards. But the Ravens’ defense adjusted and finished strong, even knocking Griffin out of the game.
“With Kaepernick, it’s like pick your poison. Are you going to try and shut down that Pistol and not let him get outside,” said 49ers Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, now an ESPN analyst.
But Ravens veteran defenders Ed Reed and Ray Lewis suggested that discipline and communication are essential to slowing down the 49ers’ offense.
“The one thing as a defensive back, you have to stay in your coverage,” Reed said. “You have to be disciplined in your coverage and rely on those other guys to make the play.”
Added Lewis: “When you do watch the film, a lot of people who played against them just never communicated at all.”
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees played it cool in talking about Kaepernick. Asked how much pressure Kaepernick puts on defensive coordinators, Pees said, “No more pressure than it put on last week with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning the week before.
“Just a different style, so we’ve got to figure out a way to have a good scheme and a good game plan for him.”
The 49ers’ offensive players have noted the massive size of their playbook. There even are some things they haven’t even shown.
“There is a lot in this offense,” Kaepernick said. “Anything that is going to move the ball they are going to try and call.