Super Bowl 2013: Ask Tre9er Mailbag

Oli Scarff

Taking to Twitter for some Q&A regarding the upcoming Super Bowl 2013 match-up between the 49ers and Ravens.

Not only is it a busy week for all of us here at Niners Nation, providing coverage of the crazy week leading up to Super Bowl 2013...but it's also been super hectic at work for me. Cutting corners is somewhat of a specialty of mine, if you haven't noticed, so I decided to let fellow 49ers fans write this post for me, mostly, by soliciting questions from my favorite social media site: Twitter.

I don't need to tell you (again) that Twitter is absolutely the fastest, most complete source for news and sports discussion that there is. If you haven't signed up yet because you have some phobia of social media sites, get over it. This ain't Facebook, full of pictures of kids pooping for the first time, life-complaining, pet-pictures, etc. Twitter is fast-paced, down-and-dirty, news and info with some quality on-topic discussion thrown-in for good measure.

Any way, on to the questions and answers:

I think the key on offense for the 49ers is clearly Colin Kaepernick. The team will go in with a strategy, things they want to try and attack based on what they believe the Ravens will do, but the understanding has to be that things can change and/or you might not be right about what you THINK Baltimore is going to do. A fluid game-plan and a quarterback who first sees what the defense is giving him rather than predetermining his decisions, are "the keys" here. The 49ers have a "pick your poison" offense, so there will be someone open, or a lane for someone to run the ball, etc. Finding out where those opportunities are and exploiting them, even as they change and morph, will be huge.

Defensively I have to say it's a tie between the pass-rush and the secondary, particularly the safeties. Good pressure makes the secondary's job easier, but it doesn't always happen. These guys need to be disciplined, know what call you're in, stay home, and limit the big plays. We don't want another start like the team had against Atlanta, quickly going down 17-0.

Chris Mortensen has mentioned the 49ers ONLY because they have so much talent on the existing roster that he felt like they'd be the type of team who could afford to give up a draft pick in order to get Darelle Revis in a trade. He reiterated this morning that he hasn't heard the 49ers are interested, and wasn't "reporting" that they were. Personally I don't see it happening. This team likes to develop through the draft and from within it's own ranks. Chris Culliver made a huge leap in his second season and I'd look for the team to draft Carlos Rogers eventual replacement, or get a bargain in free-agency, as well.

I think that Baltimore will play the read-option quite similar to how Atlanta chose to defend it, which was to take Kaepernick's outside runs away and force things inside. The Ravens will feel like they have a better run defense (which they do) and thus trust that they can win the one-on-one matchups inside. The only caveat to this is that the 49ers showed vs. the Falcons that they can also hand the ball off on an off-tackle run with lead blockers in front, if you try to stay up-field and take away the wide sweep from Kap. It should be interesting to see if Baltimore can take away ALL of the gaps on the field.

The other possibility is that the 49ers run more play-action off the read-option, or they don't run much/any read-option at all. Greg Roman mentioned that you have to be careful doing things when you don't have to, etc. He said that teams adjust. I'd think that with some tape on file and two weeks to prepare for it, the Ravens probably will have a solid plan against option runs.

As a scrambler there's only so much you can do to stop Kap. Pushing the pocket into his face so there aren't any holes to dart through is one place to start, but you have to keep the outside pressure there so he also can't escape around the edge. A delayed blitz up the gut, combined with wide edge rushes could cause Kap some issues if he can't get rid of the football. I think that the quick passing game is going to be a HUGE part of this game in combating what Baltimore wants to do with pressure.

I tend to think it will be Atlanta's group that will have given the 49ers the tougher match-up. They have two excellent wide receivers who can run fast AND catch the football, even when contested, PLUS a Hall-of-Fame TE in Tony Gonzalez. The Ravens receivers aren't quite on the same level as Atlanta's, to me, although they do present similar challenges. I'd say Anquan Boldin is like the Tony Gonzalez player: the guy who isn't the fastest, but runs good routes and can catch difficult balls even in traffic. Torrey Smith is the burner, but he doesn't quite have the consistent hands that Roddy White and Julio Jones have shown. Still, the 49ers secondary has to stay disciplined if they want to avoid what happened in Atlanta...which may have actually helped prepare them for this test.

An easy one! 49ers almost always defer to the second half, which is what I would do. I love getting the second half kickoff to either build on a lead or get a chance to cut a deficit.

As I said, I think the Ravens will try to avoid getting lit-up by Kaepernick's legs on the biggest stage, and I think they'll trust their interior run defense instead. The problem there is that the 49ers have had excellent success winning those battles inside, and if you take a defender out of the equation by keeping him up-field on the edge, now the numbers start to favor the offense. Jim Harbaugh will take 4 yards on the ground over and over again.

In the passing game it's going to be tough to decide on any one player to take away. Just when you thought that Vernon Davis wasn't a factor anymore, when Atlanta left him alone he had a HUGE day. Earlier in the year when teams decided TO key on Davis, Crabtree was tearing them apart on the short and intermediate routes. Delanie Walker is always good for a few catches when forgotten, too, as is Randy Moss.

Speaking of Moss...I'm thinking this is probably his biggest game in a 49ers uniform. This would fit-in with how Greg Roman and Harbaugh have done things all season long: keep it in the bag until the last minute, when everyone thinks it's not a factor, then unleash it. I know Moss doesn't run like he used to, but the 49ers offensive minds are creative enough to find favorable match-ups in a number of ways.

I've got Moss with the first TD of the game, and he's a super sleeper for MVP. If you bet, those odds are wonderful plays for small money that could pay off huge.

That's all the time I have today (actually spent way more time than I thought I would...so much for making my job easier!). Thanks to everyone for submitting questions and don't forget to follow myself and Niners Nation on Twitter!

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