One of the takeaways from Sunday’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens was the playoff atmosphere. The Niners lost, but they still played quite well:
It would be hard to have a game be more positive for both teams.— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) December 2, 2019
BAL: 39.2% DVOA
SF: 32.1% DVOA https://t.co/QbiupxSkk1
The 49ers players knew this game had a playoff feel to it. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner wouldn’t mind seeing Baltimore again:
“Every week is big, but being out on the field, it was a dogfight, and it definitely felt like we were in a playoff game. And, God willing, we make it to the end, and hopefully we go against them again.”
We’re not there yet, but the fact that San Francisco can talk about a possible Super Bowl appearance has to feel good for not only the players but the fans involved as well. We’re in December, and nobody is worried about the NFL Draft, but the playoff picture.
Kyle Juszczyk knows the Niners stack up well against anybody:
“You feel the urgency, you feel the intensity, the energy of the game, and it feels like a fight. You have that same mentality that every play, you are ready to just slug it out. Our record speaks for it. We’re 10-2, and the way we play the top competition in the league speaks to it. The way we played Green Bay, Seattle, Baltimore... we stack up.”
The 49ers play hasn’t wavered, despite the step up in competition. Even with a loss, the majority of us are still confident in the team. It’s naive to think the Niners will win convincingly every week. George Kittle summed it up nicely:
“In my opinion, two of the best teams in the NFL went at it, and they made a couple more plays than we did.”
That’s it. That’s most NFL games. They can flip on a play or two.
Even the Ravens were complimentary of the 49ers. Running back, Mark Ingram called San Francisco “a great team. A well-coached, physical team.” Tight end Hayden Hurst called it a great game said, “hats off to them. They had a great game plan.”
Defensive tackle Michael Pierce had an interesting point of view. Pierce said, “I just think those guys, especially (Mostert), are really, really good athletes. We’ve seen it. It wasn’t anything new, per se. We saw it on film, but they’re great athletes. They get the edge on a lot of people.” To me, the athleticism of the 49ers didn’t show up until they “got their feet underneath them.”
Those final few possessions by the defense were as impressive as any all season to get stops. San Francisco, as Kittle said, just didn’t make a play when they needed to. If these two teams meet again, that could change.